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The Effect of Treatment for Colorectal Cancer on Long-Term Health-Related Quality of Life

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Background: Little information is available on the impact that therapies used in the treatment of colorectal cancer (CRC) have on long-term, health-related quality of life (HRQL). Knowledge of how HRQL is affected by these therapies is essential in properly selecting patients for treatment. The purpose of this study was to determine the long-term impact that surgical and adjuvant therapy for resectable CRC has on patient-reported HRQL in a male veteran population through a case-control design.

Methods: All participating patients had completed therapy at least 6 months before enrollment. One hundred fifty-eight patients were accrued over a 3-year period (January 1, 1997 to December 31, 1999) at a single institution. The impact of CRC surgery on HRQL was measured by comparing a cohort of 61 patients undergoing surgery alone for the treatment of CRC (CRC-S group) with 44 patients undergoing surgery for benign colonic disease (BCD group). To study the effect of adjuvant therapy for CRC on HRQL, a third cohort of 53 patients undergoing both surgical and adjuvant treatment (CRC-S/A group) was compared with the CRC-S group. For each group, health status was measured by a health survey questionnaire, SHORT FORM 36 (SF36). For patients treated for CRC, an additional disease-specific supplemental questionnaire also was used.

Results: Self-reported health status, as measured by mean SF36 score, was significantly reduced for the BCD group compared with CRC-S patients on general health perception (41.9 ± 3.9 vs. 52.2 ± 3.0, P = .04) and the standardized physical component score (31.2 ± 1.7 vs. 37.5 ± 1.5, P < .005). Despite an increased number of distally located tumors, later stage cancers, and an increased number of recurrences in the CRC-S/A group compared with the CRC-S cohort, no significant differences were identified between these groups on any of the subscales or standardized scores of SF36. Using the supplemental questions, no differences were identified between the CRC groups with respect to appetite, weight, or gastrointestinal or urinary functioning.

Conclusions: Surgical therapy for CRC probably has minimal impact on long-term HRQL when compared with surgery for benign colonic processes. Similarly, there does not appear to be a measurable, lasting impact of CRC adjuvant therapy on HRQL when compared with surgery alone. Although overall impact of therapies for CRC on HRQL appears to be limited, measurement of therapeutic influence on an individual level and identification of selection criteria based on estimated impact on HRQL for these therapies requires prospective validation.

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Anthony, T., Jones, C., Antoine, J. et al. The Effect of Treatment for Colorectal Cancer on Long-Term Health-Related Quality of Life. Ann Surg Oncol 8, 44–49 (2001).

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