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Bowel obstruction 

Bowel obstruction
Chapter:
Bowel obstruction
Author(s):

Carla I. Ripamonti

, Alexandra M. Easson

, and Hans Gerdes

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199656097.003.0143
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date: 07 May 2021

In this chapter, malignant bowel obstruction is defined as the clinical presentation of patients with symptoms, signs, and radiographic evidence of obstruction to the transit of gastrointestinal contents caused by cancer, or the consequences of anticancer therapy including surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. Malignant bowel obstruction secondary to cancer or its treatments is encountered relatively frequently in supportive care as well as in in hospice/palliative care practice, carries a poor prognosis, and is associated with significant symptoms. Careful clinical assessment and an understanding of the patient’s disease trajectory are crucial in recommending the best way of providing palliation. In someone with a single-level obstruction and good functional status, surgery should be offered. Those with multilevel obstruction are almost never surgical candidates and should be managed with changes in oral intake and medications.

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