Prevalence vs impact: a mixed methods study of survivorship issues in colorectal cancer

Qual Life Res. 2022 Apr;31(4):1117-1134. doi: 10.1007/s11136-021-02975-2. Epub 2021 Aug 21.

Abstract

Purpose: This study aims to explore the prevalence of CRC survivorship issues and their impact on survivors' quality of life (QoL).

Methods: This study utilised a mixed methods sequential explanatory design. Adult CRC survivors between 6- and 60-months post-diagnosis (n = 304) were purposively recruited from three hospitals and twenty-one cancer support centres in Ireland. QoL was evaluated using the EuroQol and FACT-C questionnaires and results compared to population norms. 22 survey participants took part in semi-structured interviews exploring the impact of survivorship issues on their daily lives.

Results: While CRC survivors reported QoL outcomes comparable to or better than normative populations, 54% were dissatisfied with their QoL. The most common survivorship issues reported included negative body image (74%), fatigue (68%), sexual dysfunction (66%) and sleep disturbance (59%). Thematic analysis of the qualitative data illustrated survivors' attempts to live with the impact of cancer and its treatment (loss, fear, impact) and striving to contextualise, reframe and understand the consequences of cancer and its treatment (control, vigilance, benefit). Within these themes, the cross-domain impact of less prevalent symptoms including bowel dysfunction (28-57%) and peripheral neuropathy (47%) were widely discussed.

Conclusions: Although cancer survivors report positive QoL outcomes, many experience distressing physical, psychological and social effects. The findings suggest less common and difficult to manage symptoms are the greatest source of distress and unmet need. Support and information must be tailored to address survivors' individual needs and preferences for support, informed by holistic person-centred assessment.

Keywords: Cancer survivorship; Colorectal cancer; Integration; Mixed methods; Patient reported outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cancer Survivors* / psychology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Survivorship