How many other ostomates are out there?

May 10, 2021

Sometimes I feel alone in the world.  How many ostomates are out there?  Numbers are hard to come by, but according to most reliable resources, about 1 in 500 people in the western world have an ostomy.  thousands of new ostomates have their surgeries every year.  The most common causes of ostomies are colorectal cancer and IBD, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. 

In practical terms, most of us never knew anyone with an ostomy before our surgeries – or thought we didn’t - so it feels much rarer than it is.  But if you mention having an ostomy in conversations, it’s surprising how many other people will reveal they have one too, or know someone who does.  That makes sense if 1 of every 500 people in your community is an ostomate. 

So the bottom line is this.  There are ostomates all over the place.  Most of them willing, even anxious, to share information and support with others – in books, in support groups, in person, online, wherever and however they can.  You’re not alone by any means!  Just reach out and you'll find there’s a world of support waiting for you. 

Courtesy of Joan Scott, excerpt from The Ostomy Raft, 2019