Improving Experience of Patients With Rectal Cancer: A National Quality Improvement Project

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As of 2016, the reported incidence of colorectal cancer suggests that it is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada.1 Management of colorectal cancer can be lengthy and involve multiple modalities including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery, each with its own risks and sequelae.2
Research suggests that patient and family experiences with colorectal cancer can be devastating and have long-term consequences.2 Ohlsson-Nevo and colleagues3 explored patients and their partners' experiences within the first year after treatment of colorectal cancer. Findings included a perpetual sense of uncertainty among the survivors and their partners and discussed how “things were better” before the cancer diagnosis.3 Sanoff and associates2 found that changes in bowel function, sexual function, ongoing fatigue, and the effects of chemotherapy exerted a negative impact on daily living. Kenderian and coworkers4 identified multiple issues related to an ostomy including poor sleep, financial hardships, and reduced sexuality. They concluded that patients with rectal cancer with an ostomy require significant support from a multidisciplinary team. An opportunity to explore and improve the patient experience with rectal cancer was provided through a Canadian national quality improvement initiative.
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