The following article features coverage from the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress 2019. Click here to read more of Oncology Nurse Advisor‘s conference coverage.

Researchers from Ireland suggest that a closer look at the tools used to assess quality of life in patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) is needed. They reported at ESMO Congress 2019 in Barcelona, Spain, that even though cancer survivors report positive quality of life outcomes, many patients with CRC may experience distressing physical, psychological, and social effects.

The researchers examined the quality of life outcomes and symptom experiences of patients with CRC using a mixed methods sequential explanatory research design. In the past, the exploration of quality of life in cancer survivorship has been predominantly quantitative in nature, “with inconsistencies in symptom prevalence owing to the multiplicity of generic and disease-specific quality of life instruments,” the researchers reported.

To better examine this issue, they sampled 304 adult survivors of colorectal cancer who were between 6 and 60 months postdiagnosis from 3 public and private hospitals along with 21 cancer support centers in Ireland. All the participants completed a cross-sectional questionnaire and quality of life was evaluated using the EuroQol and FACT-C questionnaires. A sub-sample of 22 of the participants also completed semistructured interviews that explored their quality of life and symptom experiences in greater depth.

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The study showed that more than half of the participants were dissatisfied with their quality of life, and more than 75% reported at least one physical, psychological, or social survivorship issue. The most common issues were negative body image (74%), sexual dysfunction (66%), and fatigue (64%). Interestingly, the qualitative data demonstrated that less prevalent symptoms (bowel dysfunction [28% to 57%] and peripheral neuropathy [47%]) were associated with higher levels of unmet need and the greatest distress.

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The findings suggest this is an area where there could be significant improvement. In addition, the researchers suggest that cancer survivors should receive information and support based on a holistic approach tailored to each person.


Drury A, Payne S, Brady AM. The cost of survival study: a mixed methods exploration of quality of life outcomes in colorectal cancer survivorship. Presented at: ESMO Congress 2019; September 27-October 1, 2019; Barcelona, Spain. Abstract CN45.