Purpose: Health-related quality of life has become an important outcome in cancer treatment. Detailed health-related quality of life measures were taken as part of a trial of follow-up of patients with colon cancer by general practitioners and surgeons. This study was designed as a longitudinal assessment of health-related quality of life after treatment for carcinoma of the colon and patient satisfaction with two different settings of follow-up (general practitioners vs. surgeons).
Methods: A total of 338 patients were recruited into randomized (n = 203) and patient preference (n = 135) follow-up groups. Prospectively assessed physical and mental health-related quality of life measures and patient satisfaction are reported during two years.
Results: Elderly and less educated patients prefer follow-up by general practitioners over surgeons. Overall, physical health-related quality of life is reduced early after treatment; however, this returns to normal levels at one year. Mental quality of life, anxiety, and depression are at or above population levels throughout the two-year follow-up period. There were no differences in physical or psychologic health-related quality of life measures between general practitioner and surgeon groups at any time during follow-up. Overall, more advanced Dukes stage is associated with a trend to improved mental health-related quality of life. Patients' ability to choose the setting of follow-up has no influence on health-related quality of life compared with random allocation to general practitioner or surgeon. Patients are equally highly satisfied with follow-up by general practitioner or surgeon.
Conclusions: After recovery from treatment for colon cancer, health-related quality of life is similar to the general population. Good health-related quality of life outcomes and high patient satisfaction are as well provided by general practitioners in the community setting as by surgeon review.