Background: The aim of the study was to assess health-related quality of life (HRQL) in patients with surgically cured oesophageal cancer.
Methods: A Swedish nationwide cohort of patients undergoing oesophagectomy for cancer between April 2001 and January 2004 was studied prospectively, and compared with a Swedish age- and sex-adjusted reference population. Validated European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer quality of life questionnaires were used to assess HRQL at 6 months and 3 years after surgery. A mean score difference of 10 or more between groups was considered clinically relevant and tested further for statistical significance.
Results: Of 358 patients, 117 (32.7 per cent) survived for at least 3 years. Of these, 87 patients (74.4 per cent) responded to the questionnaires. Six months after surgery, most aspects of HRQL were substantially worse than in the reference population with no improvement at 3 years. Patients alive at 3 years reported significantly poorer role and social function, and significantly more problems with fatigue, diarrhoea, appetite loss, nausea and vomiting, than in the reference population.
Conclusion: HRQL in long-term survivors after oesophagectomy does not improve between 6 months and 3 years after surgery, and is worse than that in a comparable reference population.