How to Track the Quality of Life in Rectal Cancer Patients?
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second commonest cause of cancer-related deaths in the developed world . Surgical resection provides the best hope of cure, and a modest additional survival benefit can be gained from adjuvant chemotherapy [1, 2], especially for colon cancer. The use of preoperative radio-chemotherapy in rectal cancer (RC) is now widely accepted as standard practice as it is associated with remarkable improvements in loco-regional control and with slight improvements in survival rates [3–5]. Over the past decade, together with the analysis of toxicity, surgical-related morbidity, local recurrence rates, disease free survival and overall survival, there had been an increased attention on the evaluation of patients reported outcomes and quality of life (QoL). Due to the growing number of RC survivors, together with the increased life expectancy, long-term treatment-related morbidity and its effects on QoL have become an important issue. On the other side there is still a 30% of patients at high risk of local and distant failure. In this case an intensified loco-regional and systemic treatment is proposed, which is related with an increased acute and late toxicity. Understanding the consequences of treatment is fundamental to optimize patient support and minimize impact on daily life. In recent years the role the patient plays in reporting significant events related to treatment has become crucial especially after the introduction of patient-reported outcomes [6, 7]. As an “expert of himself” the patient is becoming an “active partner” of health care professionals (HCP) during treatments and follow-up. This partnership can be established only by using effective strategies for communicating with HCP about medications and side effects during and after treatment, and can facilitate the preservation and improvement of patients’ QoL.
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