Background: This study examined the physical and mental consequences of an ostomy among 1-10-year rectal cancer survivors. Methods: Patients with rectal cancer diagnosed from 2000 to 2009, as registered in the population-based Eindhoven Cancer Registry, received a questionnaire on quality of life (QOL; EORTC QLQ-C30), disease-specific health status (EORTC QLQ-CR38), depression and anxiety (HADS), illness perceptions (Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire), and health care utilization; 76% (n = 1019) responded. Results: A total of 408 (43%) rectal cancer survivors had an ostomy at survey and they reported a statistically significant and clinically relevant lower physical, role, and social functioning, and global health status/QOL but fewer problems with constipation and diarrhea compared with those without an ostomy. Also, they had a significantly worse body image, more male sexual problems, and fewer gastrointestinal problems although these differences were not clinically relevant. No differences regarding the prevalence of symptoms of anxiety and depression were found. Survivors with an ostomy believed that their illness have significantly more serious consequences, will last longer (clinically relevant), and were more concerned about their illness compared with those without an ostomy. Survivors with an ostomy visited their medical specialist, but not their general practitioner, significantly more often. Also, they more often received additional support after cancer treatment. Conclusions: Rectal cancer survivors with an ostomy have a lower QOL, worse illness perceptions, and a higher health care consumption compared with those without an ostomy 1-10 years after diagnosis. Copyright (C) 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.