Health-related quality of life, faecal continence and bowel function in rectal cancer patients after chemoradiotherapy followed by radical surgery

Salvatore Pucciarelli, Paola Del Bianco, Fabio Efficace, Paola Toppan, Samantha Serpentini, Maria Luisa Friso, Sara Lonardi, Gian Luca De Salvo, Donato Nitti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose To evaluate health-related quality of life (HRQOL), faecal continence and bowel function of patients with rectal cancer who underwent preoperative chemoradiotherapy (pCRT) in a cross-sectional setting. Methods Out of 185 consecutive patients who underwent pCRT for rectal cancer from 1994 to 2004 at a single institution, 101 were eligible for the study. Causes of exclusion were: Death (n=38), not radical surgery or recurrence (n=21), presence of stoma at the time of the survey (n=15), lost to follow-up (n=6) and miscellaneous (n=4). Eligible patients were asked to complete: The European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) QLQ-C30, the disease specific colorectal module (EORTC QLQ-CR38) and faecal incontinence and bowel function questionnaires. HRQOL outcomes were compared with reference data from the general population, and the association among clinical variables and HRQOL was also investigated with linear regression analyses. Results Questionnaires were completed by 80% of eligible patients. Compared to population-based norms, patients showed clinically meaningful worse outcomes in terms of constipation and diarrhoea. Stool fractionation (p<0.01) and use of enema/laxative (p<0.01) were negatively associated with global health status/QOL. Urgency negatively affected physical (p<0.01), role (p<0.01) and social functioning (p<0.01). Sensation of incomplete evacuation negatively affected social functioning (p<0.01). Conclusions Although HRQOL profile of these patients is broadly similar to that of healthy subjects, there are still important limitations in terms of key symptoms. The use of validated questionnaires is crucial to provide standardised information on relevant health status areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601-608
Number of pages8
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


  • Bowel function
  • Chemoradiotherapy
  • Faecal incontinence
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Rectal cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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