Anorectal Function and Quality of Life in Patients With Early Stage Rectal Cancer Treated With Chemoradiation and Local Excision

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Little is known about anorectal function and quality of life after chemoradiation followed by local excision, which is an alternative to total mesorectal excision for selected patients with early rectal cancer.

OBJECTIVE:

The purpose of this study was to prospectively assess anorectal function and health-related quality of life of patients with T2N0 rectal cancer who were treated with an alternative approach.

DESIGN:

This was a prospective, phase II trial.

SETTINGS:

The study was multicentric (American College of Surgeons Oncology Group trial Z6041).

INTERVENTIONS:

Patients with stage cT2N0 rectal adenocarcinomas were treated with an oxaliplatin/capecitabine-based chemoradiation regimen followed by local excision.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Anorectal function and quality of life were assessed at enrollment and 1 year postoperatively with the Fecal Incontinence Severity Index, Fecal Incontinence Quality of Life scale, and Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Colorectal Questionnaire. Results were compared, and multivariable analysis was performed to identify predictors of outcome.

RESULTS:

Seventy-one patients (98%) were evaluated at enrollment and 66 (92%) at 1 year. Compared with baseline, no significant differences were found on Fecal Incontinence Severity Index scores at 1 year. Fecal Incontinence Quality of Life results were significantly worse in the lifestyle (p < 0.001), coping/behavior (p < 0.001), and embarrassment (p = 0.002) domains. There were no differences in the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy overall score, but the physical well-being subscale was significantly worse and emotional well-being was improved after surgery. Treatment with the original chemoradiation regimen predicted worse depression/self-perception and embarrassment scores in the Fecal Incontinence Quality of Life, and male sex was predictive of worse scores in the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy overall score and trial outcome index.

LIMITATIONS:

Small sample size, relatively short follow-up, and absence of information before cancer diagnosis were study limitations.

CONCLUSIONS:

Chemoradiation followed by local excision had minimal impact on anorectal function 1 year after surgery. Overall quality of life remained stable, with mixed effects on different subscales. This information should be used to counsel patients about expected outcomes.

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