Symptoms, Economic Burden Reduce QoL in Gastrointestinal Cancer Survivors

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Symptoms such as fatigue, numbness, and memory loss, as well as financial concerns, contribute to decreased quality of life.
Symptoms such as fatigue, numbness, and memory loss, as well as financial concerns, contribute to decreased quality of life.

High levels of symptom and economic burden have a negative impact on quality of life (QoL) for survivors of gastrointestinal (GI) cancer, suggesting that symptom management and economic support should be incorporated into cancer survivorship strategies, a study published in the European Journal of Oncology Nursing has shown.

For this study, a cross-sectional survey was administered to 145 survivors of gastric or colorectal cancer in Seoul, South Korea. Eligible patients were not receiving any cancer treatment, were cancer free at the time of enrollment, and had a mean age of 62 years. Nearly 12% (17) of patients reported incurring high economic burden due to the cost of treatment, but 34.5% (50) reported experiencing little financial hardship.

Researchers used various questionnaires to assess factors such as symptoms, distress, and QoL. Using quantile regression to evaluate factors associated with QoL, data from the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th quantiles were considered.

The most frequently reported symptoms were fatigue (24.9%), numbness or tingling (17.2%), feeling bloated (17.2%), xerostomia (15.9%), and difficulty remembering (11.8%). Approximately 32% (47) of patients reported experiencing severe distress. Economic burden significantly influenced QoL in every quantile. Symptom score had a negative impact on QoL that was most significant in the 10th and 25th quantiles.

The authors of the study concluded “financial support and plans for an enhanced work environment, as well as medical support, should be considered in cancer survivorship plans so that cancer survivors can return and re-adapt easily to society. Further research for the development and effectiveness evaluation of various interventions to improve the QoL of GI cancer survivors is also needed.”


1. Ahn S, Jung H, Kim S, Shin SJ, Park CG, Chu SH. Quality of life among Korean gastrointestinal cancer survivors. Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2017;30:15-21.

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