Background: The objective of this study was to assess the preoperative and postoperative quality of life of candidates for major lung resection with lung cancer.
Methods: In all, 156 consecutive patients (144 lobectomies, 12 pneumonectomies) were prospectively assessed by means of the Short Form-36 Health Survey, version 2, preoperatively and 1 month and 3 months after operation. Serial quality of life scales were compared by repeated measures analysis of variance.
Results: In our series, most quality of life values were reduced compared with the general population. Compared with preoperative values, the physical composite scale was significantly reduced at 1 month (51 versus 45.1, p < 0.0001), and completely recovered at 3 months (51 versus 52.4, p = 0.2), whereas the mental composite scale remained unchanged. All correlation coefficients between these values and forced expiratory volume in 1 second, carbon monoxide lung diffusion capacity, and height reached at stair-climbing test at each evaluation period were below 0.2. With the exception of pneumonectomy patients (who had a significantly lower physical composite scale [p = 0.04]), no significant differences in both physical and mental values were noted in other high-risk subgroups of patients (elderly, coronary artery disease, poor pulmonary function) compared with lower-risk counterparts.
Conclusions: Candidates for lung resection with lung cancer had a worse preoperative quality of life compared with the general population. Quality-of-life measures had poor correlation with forced expiratory volume in 1 second, carbon monoxide lung diffusion capacity, and exercise test performance. Therefore, these functional variables cannot substitute for specific evaluation instruments. Finally, patients traditionally considered at higher risk for lung resection had postoperative physical and emotional quality of life scores similar to those observed in younger and fitter patients.