Impact of age on quality of life in patients with rectal cancer

World J Surg. 2005 Feb;29(2):190-7. doi: 10.1007/s00268-004-7556-4.


Some studies indicate that age at the time of surgery has a general effect on outcomes. The impact of age on the quality of life (QOL) of patients with rectal cancer, however, has not been investigated. The present study was conducted to address this issue. Over a 5-year period the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC)-QLQ-C-30 and a tumor-specific module were prospectively administered to patients before surgery, at discharge, and at 3, 6, 12, and 24 months postoperatively. Comparisons were made between age groups. A total of 519 patients participated in the study. QOL data were available for 253 patients. Significant differences were observed only between patients aged 69 years and younger (< or =69 years) (169/253) and those aged 70 years and older (> or =70 years) (85/253). Physical and role functioning was better for patients < or =69 years; patients > or =70 years suffered from increased pain and fatigue. Younger patients had more difficulty with sexual enjoyment, and over time sexual strain was worse for patients aged > or =70 years during the early postoperative period but improved, whereas patients aged < or =69 years had increasing levels of strain over time. The findings in this study confirmed that QOL is dynamic over time and that age has an impact on QOL and sexuality. Patients aged > or =70 years are affected by impaired physical functioning, global health, and fatigue, whereas increased treatment strain during the early postoperative period improves over time. Patients aged < or =69 years experience increased strain because of impaired sexual function.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Rectal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Socioeconomic Factors