A one group repeated measures design was used to describe changes in body image in 45 patients treated with ostomy for bowel or bladder cancer. Body image was measured preoperatively and at two postoperative points: 1 month and in 6 months or postclosure. The Body Cathexis Scale, Draw-a-Person, and subjective responses to open-ended questions were used. There was a significant difference in Body Cathexis scores between the immediate 1 month postoperative period and 6 months later (F(2, 88) = 3.13, p = .049). Body image scores did not change significantly between the preostomy and first postostomy measures. Qualitative data suggested that cancer diagnosis and its associated concerns were paramount on subjects' minds preoperatively and thus negatively influenced body image before the creation of the ostomy. Although altered body image is an appropriate nursing diagnosis for patients with ostomy in both the preoperative and postoperative periods, other issues may be dominant especially in the preoperative period.