Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Marya Olgas


In spite of continuing advances in diagnostic methods, surgical and medical management, and psychological care, cancer remains the second leading cause of death among adults in the United States (American Cancer Society, 1980), and it continues to engender feelings of futility in its victims and the general population as well. Between 1970 and 1980 more than 6.5 million new cases of cancer were diagnosed, and more than 10 million people were under medical treatment for the disease. There are over 3 million Americans presently alive who have a history of cancer (American Cancer Society, 1980). Approximately 15 percent of all malignancies occur in the colon and rectum (American Cancer Society, 1980).

The American Cancer Society estimated that 120,000 new cases of colon and rectal cancer will develop in 1981, with approximately two-thirds occurring in the colon and one-third occurring in the rectum (American Cancer Society, 1980). In Virginia alone, 2,200 new cases of colo-rectal cancer are anticipated (American Cancer Society, 1980).

Surgery offers the best chance of cure for individuals with malignancies confined to the colon or rectum. For those with extensive disease, it offers palliation. However, surgery for colon or rectal cancer is always radical and often mutilating. When colostomy is necessary, as it is in some 50,000 cases annually (Rowbotham, 1971), the individual is faced with drastic alterations in his body's form and function. Nursing is concerned with helping individuals cope with the effects of this illness and its treatment.


Scanned, with permission from the author, from the original print version, which resides in University Archives.


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VCU University Archives

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VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission


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Nursing Commons