Work Ability in Patients With Stage I-IV Colon Cancer: Results of the Dutch Prospective Colorectal Cancer Cohort

Dis Colon Rectum. 2021 Oct 21. doi: 10.1097/DCR.0000000000002075. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Background: Colon cancer affects a patient's ability to work. Many colon cancer patients are employed at the time of diagnosis.

Objective: We evaluated work ability during the first two years after colon cancer diagnosis.

Design: This study is a national prospective study, the Prospective Dutch ColoRectal Cancer cohort, including clinical data and patient reported outcomes.

Settings: Data were collected in 59 medical centers in the Netherlands.

Patients: Patients <67 years, with stage I-IV colon cancer, who completed work ability index questionnaires, were selected.

Main outcome measures: Work ability was assessed at baseline, 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months. The work ability index (ranging from 0-49) was evaluated using linear mixed models. Outcomes were matched to population controls without cancer.

Results: Of 390 patients, 84% had paid employment. Work ability of stage I-IV patients was significantly lower at time of diagnosis compared to matched population controls (31±8.2 and 41±5.6, respectively). Patients with stage I-III disease receiving surgery only regained work ability index scores comparable to matched population controls at 18 months. Patients receiving adjuvant systemic treatment initially demonstrated a decrease in work ability with improvements from 6 months onwards and normalization at 24 months. Stage IV patients did not demonstrate improvements in work ability outcomes over time. Work ability scores were negatively influenced by the administration of systemic treatment and ≥1 comorbidities.

Limitations: Only patients with patient reported outcomes and work at baseline were included in this analysis. Also, questionnaire response rates decreased over time.

Conclusion: Work ability in colon cancer patients is decreased for a prolonged time. Recovery depends on disease stage, type of treatment and comorbidity. Patients with stage I-III disease treated with curative surgery alone are first to regain work ability, followed by patients who receive adjuvant chemotherapy. Stage IV disease patients do not regain work ability. See Video Abstract at http://links.lww.com/DCR/B759.