International Journal of Colorectal Disease

, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 683–694 | Cite as

Chronic diarrhoea following surgery for colon cancer—frequency, causes and treatment options

  • Jonathan Yde
  • Helene M. Larsen
  • Søren Laurberg
  • Klaus Krogh
  • Hanne B. Moeller



The growing population of survivors after colon cancer warrants increased attention to the long-term outcome of surgical treatment. The change in bowel anatomy after resection disrupts normal gastrointestinal function and may cause symptoms. Thus, many patients surviving colon cancer have to cope with bowel dysfunction for the rest of their lives. We here aim to provide an overview of the literature on this topic.


We review long-term functional outcomes of surgical treatment for colon cancer, the underlying pathology, and treatment options.


Common symptoms include constipation, urge for defecation and diarrhoea. Causes of diarrhoea after colon cancer surgery are sparsely studied, but they probably include bile acid malabsorption, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and disruption of the ileal brake. Specific diagnosis should be made to allow individual treatment based on the underlying pathology. Studies on treatment of functional problems after surgery for colon cancer are extremely few, but some lessons can be drawn from the treatment of other patient groups having undergone colon surgery.


Diarrhoea is likely a common long-term complication after colon cancer surgery. Attention to this complication and a specific diagnosis will aid the targeted treatment of patients suffering from this complication.


Colon cancer surgery Diarrhoea Bile acid malabsorption Complications to colon cancer 



The work was supported by an AUFF Starting Grant and Aage and Johanne Louis-Hansen Foundation and by a grant from the Danish Cancer Society.


The work was supported by an AUFF starting Grant, Aage and Johanne Louis-Hansens Foundation, and The Danish Cancer Society.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan Yde
    • 1
  • Helene M. Larsen
    • 2
    • 4
  • Søren Laurberg
    • 2
    • 4
  • Klaus Krogh
    • 3
    • 4
  • Hanne B. Moeller
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiomedicineAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryAarhus University HospitalAarhusDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Hepatology and GastroenterologyAarhus University HospitalAarhusDenmark
  4. 4.Danish Cancer Society Centre for Research and Late Adverse Effects After Cancer in the Pelvic OrgansAarhus University HospitalAarhusDenmark

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