Quality of life in long term survivors of colorectal cancer

Am J Gastroenterol. 2002 May;97(5):1228-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2002.05694.x.


Objectives: We aimed to determine the quality of life (QOL) for long term survivors of colorectal cancer.

Methods: Persons with colorectal cancer who had survived at least 5 yr from diagnosis were recruited from a local cancer registry to answer questions about general QOL and colon cancer-specific issues. Before the general survey, focus group interviews with long term survivors were conducted to select survey questions from a pool of general and cancer-specific QOL questionnaires. The survey included the Health Utilities Index, the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale, and questions from the Short Form 36 and Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Colorectal Cancer. After permission was obtained from their primary physicians, long term survivors from the registry were mailed invitation letters, then telephoned. Those agreeing were mailed self-administered questionnaires with stamped return envelopes.

Results: Two hundred twenty-seven respondents (average age = 74 yr, 46% female) completed the survey. Survivors reported a relatively uniform and high QOL, irrespective of stage at diagnosis and time from diagnosis. Non-cancer related comorbid conditions and low income status had more influence on overall QOL than initial stage of colorectal cancer or time since diagnosis. Compared to age-matched populations, long term survivors reported higher overall QOL, but had higher rates of depression. Sixteen percent reported three or more bowel movements a day; 49% reported chronic recurrent diarrhea.

Conclusions: Those who achieve long term remission from colorectal cancer may experience a relatively high QOL, although physical symptoms such as diarrhea and depressive symptoms remain a problem.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / complications
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Diarrhea / etiology
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Quality of Life*
  • Survival Analysis