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Long-term health-related quality of life in rectal cancer patients after preoperative short-course and long-course (chemo) radiotherapy

L.M. Wiltink, R.A. Nout, J.R.N. van der Voort van Zyp, H.M. Ceha, M. Fiocco, E. Meershoek-Klein Kranenbarg, A.W.K.S. Marinelli, C.J.H. van de Velde, C.A.M. Marijnen

Clinical Colorectal Cancer, Available online 13 February 2016



Both preoperative short-course radiotherapy (SC-PRT) and preoperative long-course chemo radiotherapy (CRT) have shown to reduce local recurrence rates after total mesorectal excision (TME), but neither resulted in improved survival. This study compared the long-term health-related quality of life (HRQL) and symptoms between CRT and SC-PRT.


Patients who were preoperatively treated with a total dose of 50.0 to 50.4 Gy for locally advanced rectal cancers were identified from 2 hospital registries. Starting from 2011, all patients who were disease-free in the study population (n = 105) were sent a HRQL-questionnaire composed of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) QLQ-C30 and questions on bowel and urinary function. Patients who underwent SC-PRT in the TME trial were used as a reference group.


HRQL results from 85 patients receiving CRT (81.0%), with a median follow-up time of 58 months, were compared with the results of patients who underwent SC-PRT (n = 306). Apart from more nausea and vomiting reported by patients receiving CRT (mean score for CRT 5.9 vs. 1.3 for SC-PRT; P < .01; not clinically relevant) and less satisfaction with urinary function indicated by patients who received CRT (mean score for CRT 71.2 vs. 81.2 for SC-PRT; P < .01), no significant differences were found in HRQL and symptoms between patients who received CRT and SC-PRT.


This analysis of HRQL in patients who received CRT shows no clinically relevant differences in long-term HRQL and symptoms between patients who received CRT and SC-PRT, apart from less satisfaction with urinary function reported by patients who received CRT. These results indicate that both approaches have a comparable impact on long-term HRQL.

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