Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 667–674 | Cite as

Quality of life across chemotherapy lines in patients with advanced colorectal cancer: a prospective single-center observational study

  • Beate MayrbäurlEmail author
  • Johannes M. Giesinger
  • Sonja Burgstaller
  • Gudrun Piringer
  • Bernhard Holzner
  • Josef Thaler
Original Article



Palliative chemotherapy in patients with nonresectable advanced colorectal carcinoma is performed to prolong survival, alleviate tumor-associated symptoms, and maintain or improve health-related quality of life (HRQOL). In this prospective single-center observational study, we assessed HRQOL across the various lines of palliative chemotherapy.


HRQOL data were acquired using the EORTC Quality of Life Questionnaire-C30 (QLQ-C30) questionnaire. The first assessment was performed at the beginning of each chemotherapy line, the second after three cycles, and the third at the end of chemotherapy. Further assessments were conducted during checkups every 3 months in our outpatient unit.


In total, 100 consecutive patients with colorectal carcinoma (mean age 66.4 years; 60 % men) treated with palliative chemotherapy were recruited. Generally, QOL deteriorated constantly across time. Physical functioning, fatigue, pain, dyspnea, and appetite worsened steadily from first-line chemotherapy to the later treatment phase. Global QOL, emotional functioning, and role functioning improved slightly after the end of first-line chemotherapy, deteriorated during second-line chemotherapy to the level of first-line chemotherapy, and further deteriorated in the later treatment phases. In additional analyses, we found the largest differences between patients with and without a treatment response for pain (19.0 vs. 37.2 points) and appetite loss (17.4 vs. 32.7 points).


The individual QOL domains deteriorated constantly across time. Our data indicate that patients undergoing first- and second-line palliative chemotherapy experience stabilization of global QOL and psychosocial symptoms. We also found that unselected patients who achieved a treatment response had a lower symptom burden and better QOL than did patients with progressive disease.


Advanced colorectal cancer Quality of life Palliative chemotherapy Electronic patient-reported outcome monitoring 



We would like to thank Bettina Buchbauer Mag, MSc. and Ina Pühringer Mag, MSc for their contribution to the data collection.


The study was partly funded by the Forschungsförderungsverein Oberösterreichische Krebshilfe, an independent and non-profit association with the aim of cancer research, cancer prevention, and counseling. The funding source had no involvement in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the article for publication.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Beate Mayrbäurl
    • 1
    Email author
  • Johannes M. Giesinger
    • 2
  • Sonja Burgstaller
    • 1
  • Gudrun Piringer
    • 1
  • Bernhard Holzner
    • 2
  • Josef Thaler
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Internal Medicine IVKlinikum Wels-GrieskirchenWelsAustria
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyInnsbruck Medical UniversityInnsbruckAustria

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