Long-term (≥5 years) quality of life after colorectal cancer is not well described. The present study assessed quality of life (QOL) and psychological distress in colorectal cancer survivors more than 5 years to describe changes over time and antecedents of long-term outcomes.
A prospective survey of a population-based sample of 763 colorectal cancer patients assessed socio-demographic variables, health behaviors, optimism, threat appraisal, and perceived social support at 5 months post-diagnosis as predictors of QOL and psychological distress 5 years post-diagnosis.
QOL improved over time (P < 0.01 for each measure); however, measures of psychological distress remained stable (P > 0.07 for each measure). Risk factors for poorer QOL and/or greater psychological distress included: later stage disease, having a permanent stoma, rectal cancer, fatigue, smoking, being single, low social support, low optimism, and a more negative cancer threat appraisal. Being women, having a pet, having a private health insurance, and receiving both surgery and adjuvant treatment were protective.
Consistent with response shift theory, the antecedents of QOL after colorectal cancer are multifactorial and include predisposing socio-demographic, medical, and psychological variables. Psychosocial interventions that target both social support and threat appraisal may be effective for this patient group. Additional stepped-up support may be needed for people from a poorer social environment who have multiple risk factors for poorer adjustment. Health system effects require further investigation.
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Quality of life
Body mass index
Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Colorectal
Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General
Brief Symptoms Inventory-18
Global Severity Index
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This project was funded by the Cancer Council Queensland. We thank Rachel Austin and Monica West for research support.
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Chambers, S.K., Meng, X., Youl, P. et al. A five-year prospective study of quality of life after colorectal cancer. Qual Life Res 21, 1551–1564 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11136-011-0067-5