PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to investigate the long term quality of life of colorectal
cancer patients who had undergone either sphincter conserving or sphincter sacrificing
surgery. It was predicted that patients who underwent sphincter-sacrificing surgery resulting
in the formation of a stoma would report an inferior quality of life as indicated across
several domains of quality of life compared to patients with no stoma.
METHOD: Thirty two patients completed a battery of questionnaires measuring quality of
life at an interval of between twelve and eighteen months post surgery. Quality of life was
measured using two questionnaires developed by the European Organisation for Research
and Treatment of Cancer: one for cancer specific quality of life (EORTC QLQ-C30) and the
supplemental colorectal cancer specific module (EORTC QLQ-CR38, Aaronson et al.,
1988); Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS, Zigmond & Snaith, 1983); Body
Image Scale (BIS, Hopwood, Fletcher, Lee & Al Ghazal, 2001).
DATA ANALYSIS: Patient age, length of time since surgery and scores on the measures were
compared using independent samples t-tests. Length of time since surgery was analysed
using covariance. Person's correlation co-efficient was used to test for the level of
association between measures
Results: No significant differences between the sphincter conserving and sphincter
sacrificing groups were found on several domains of quality of life assessment including,
physical, social, psychological and role functioning and levels of post-surgery symptoms.
Significant differences were found between patients in relation to body image satisfaction
and male sexual problems. Patients with a stoma showed more dissatisfaction with their
body image than patients without a stoma. Males with a stoma were found to report more
sexual problems than males without a stoma. Results are discussed in relation to previous
research and in terms of implications for further research and psychosocial aspects of care
for colorectal cancer patients.