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Functional outcome, quality of life, and efficacy of probiotics in postoperative patients with colorectal cancer



We investigated the functional outcome and health-related quality of life (QOL) of patients who underwent a surgical resection of colorectal cancer, and reviewed the efficacy of probiotics for improving bowel function.


A questionnaire was mailed to 193 patients. Questionnaires contained the Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form 36-Item Health Survey and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire C30 as QOL scores, the Wexner incontinence score, and original questionnaire items about bowel functions. Probiotics, containing Bacillus natto and Lactobacillus acidophilus, were given to 77 patients for 3 months; after 3 months of treatment, the same questionnaire was administered. The results were analyzed by location of the resected cancer: rectal, colonic, right, and left.


In the rectal group, defecation frequency, anal pain, and the Wexner score were significantly worse than in the colonic group. In the right group, the fecal form was looser and nighttime defecation frequency was higher than those of the left group. Three items in the QOL score of the right group were significantly worse compared with the left group. Functional outcome including defecation frequency, feeling of incomplete defecation, and five items in the QOL score were significantly improved after taking probiotics. Improvement in functional outcome and/or QOL was observed in all groups.


Not only rectal resection but also rightside colectomy affected bowel dysfunction. Probiotics could be an effective treatment for improvement in functional outcome and QOL after colorectal resection.

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Author information

Correspondence to Seiji Ohigashi.

Additional information

The data concerning the effects of probiotics on the QOL have previously been published in part (in Japanese) in the Journal of the Japan Society of Coloproctology 2008;61: 389–95.

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Ohigashi, S., Hoshino, Y., Ohde, S. et al. Functional outcome, quality of life, and efficacy of probiotics in postoperative patients with colorectal cancer. Surg Today 41, 1200 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00595-010-4450-6

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Key words

  • Postoperative quality of life
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Bowel function
  • Probiotics