Objective: To evaluate quality of life (QoL) evolution after thoracic surgery for lung cancer with the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) QoL Questionnaire-C30 and the lung cancer specific module LC13.
Methods: A prospective QoL registration started in 2002 for all patients undergoing major pulmonary surgery for malignant disease. Between January 2002 and November 2004, 100 patients were included. Questionnaires were administered pre-operatively and 1, 3, 6 and 12 months post-operatively (MPO) with response rates of 100%, 71%, 77%, 83% and 76%, respectively.
Procedures: lobectomy 61%, pneumonectomy 17%, and wedge resection 22%. Approaches: anterolateral thoracotomy 79%, posterolateral thoracotomy 13% and video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) 8%.
Results: Lobectomy and wedge resection are comparable in QoL evolution. Both resections are characterized by a 1 month temporary decrease in QoL functioning scores and an increase in pain symptoms. Lobectomy patients report an increase in dyspnea in the first month post-operatively, not seen after wedge resection. With exception of thoracic pain after lobectomy, QoL scores approximated baseline values 3MPO indicating good recovery. After pneumonectomy, there is no return to baseline in physical functioning, role functioning, pain, shoulder function and dyspnea in a 12 months follow-up period. Other QoL scores were comparable with baseline values. Pneumonectomy was significantly associated with a less favorable QoL score evolution when compared with lobectomy. Comparing antero- and posterolateral thoracotomy, significant differences in pain and dyspnea were seen in favor of the anterolateral technique. Comparing thoracotomy to VATS, significant differences were seen in physical functioning, QoL and thoracic pain in favor of VATS.
Conclusions: The present study documented QoL evolution profiles comparing pre-operative status with deficits and changes at 1, 3, 6 and 12 months after pulmonary surgery. Lung cancer surgery is well tolerated by the majority of patients. Lobectomy patients have a more favorable physical functioning and less thoracic pain, compared to pneumonectomy. Antero- and posterolateral thoracotomy are comparable for QoL evolution. After posterolateral thoracotomy more post-operative pain and dyspnea was seen. Post-operative physical functioning, pain and QoL are in favor of VATS.