Do older patients with colorectal cancer experience more deterioration in health-related quality of life than younger patients during the first year of palliative chemotherapy? A prospective real-world observational study

J Geriatr Oncol. 2024 Apr;15(3):101715. doi: 10.1016/j.jgo.2024.101715. Epub 2024 Feb 15.


Introduction: The primary aim was to evaluate changes in health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in a real-life population among younger (< 70 years) and older patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) during the first year of palliative chemotherapy. The secondary aims were to assess the impact of chemo-break on HRQoL and to report overall survival (OS).

Materials and methods: Patients with newly diagnosed mCRC, ≥ 18 years, and scheduled for first line palliative chemotherapy were included in this multicentre longitudinal observational study. The European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire Core 30 (0-100) was filled in at baseline and every second month. Changes or differences in QoL scores of >20, 10-20, and 5-10 points were considered to be of large, moderate, and small clinical magnitude, respectively. Comparing means of different QoL scores between groups or over time, a threshold of 5-10 was considered the minimally important difference (MID). Treatments, patient characteristics, and tumour characteristics were prospectively registered.

Results: A total of 214 patients were included, and 146 were alive after one year. Four months after start of treatment, large deteriorations in fatigue and physical functioning were reported by 40% and 25% of the patients, respectively. Changes in global QoL, physical functioning, role functioning, fatigue, pain, and nausea/vomiting were not significantly different between the age groups and reached baseline levels after one year. Patients on chemo-break reported significant improvements in several HRQoL domains. Median OS was 17.5 months [95% confidence interval 14.4-20.5] with no difference between younger and older patients.

Discussion: Older patients did not experience more deterioration in HRQoL than younger patients during the first year of palliative chemotherapy. Measures to mitigate the deteriorations in fatigue and physical functioning observed during the first months of palliative treatment are warranted.

Trial registration: NCT02395224, March 23, 2015, retrospectively registered.

Keywords: Aged; Colorectal neoplasms; Palliative care; Quality of life; Treatment break.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Fatigue
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*

Associated data