Clinical Trial| Volume 55, P15-26, March 2016

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The impact on health-related quality of life in the first 12 months: A randomised comparison of preoperative short-course radiation versus long-course chemoradiation for T3 rectal cancer (Trans-Tasman Radiation Oncology Group Trial 01.04)

Published:January 06, 2016DOI:


      • We compared health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in patients with rectal cancer having combined modality treatments.
      • Surgery had the most profoundly negative effect on HRQOL across multiple domains.
      • No differences occurred in HRQOL between neoadjuvant strategies, in the first 12 months.
      • HRQOL returned to baseline by 12 months except for body image and sexual functioning.



      To assess health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in patients participating in a randomised trial of neoadjuvant short course radiation (SC) or long course chemoradiation (LC) for operable rectal cancer.

      Patients and methods

      Eligible patients with T3N0-2M0 rectal cancer completed the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer quality of life questionnaire (QLQ-C30) and the colorectal cancer specific module (QLQ C38) at randomisation and 1, 2, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months later.


      Of 326 patients randomised, 297 (SC 143, LC 154) were eligible for completion of HRQOL questionnaires. Baseline scores were comparable across the SC and LC groups. Patients reported low scores on sexual functioning and sexual enjoyment. Defaecation problems were the worst of the symptoms at baseline. Surgery had the most profoundly negative effect on HRQOL, seen in both the SC and LC treatment groups to the same extent. The most severely affected domains were physical function and role function and the most severely affected symptoms were fatigue, pain, appetite, weight loss and male sexual problems. Most domains and symptoms returned to baseline levels by 12 months apart from body image, sexual enjoyment and male sexual problems. Future perspective was better than prior to treatment.


      There is no overall difference in HRQOL between SC and LC neoadjuvant treatment strategies, in the first 12 months, after surgery. In the immediate postoperative period HRQOL was adversely affected in both groups but for the most part was temporary. Some residual sexual functioning concerns persisted at 12 months.


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