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Quality of life of patients with gastrointestinal cancers undergoing chemotherapy.



Findings regarding changes in the quality of life (QOL) of patients with gastrointestinal cancers (GI) undergoing chemotherapy (CTX) are inconclusive. Purpose was to evaluate for changes in QOL scores of patients with GI cancers over two cycles of CTX.


Patients (n = 397) completed disease-specific [i.e., Quality of Life-Scale-Patient Version (QOL-PV)] and generic [12-item Medical Outcomes Study Short Form Survey (SF-12)] measures of QOL a total of six times over two cycles of CTX. Changes in these QOL scores were evaluated using bootstrapped multilevel regression with full information maximum likelihood estimation. Treatment group (i.e., with or without targeted therapy), age, number of metastatic sites, time from cancer diagnosis, number of prior cancer treatments, GI cancer diagnosis (i.e., colon/rectum/anal vs. other), and CTX regimen were evaluated as covariates in the conditional models for each of the QOL scores.


During the second cycle of CTX, QOL-PV scores decreased in the week following CTX administration, and then increased the following week. For both cycles of CTX, the physical component summary and mental component summary scores of the SF-12 decreased in the week following CTX administration and then increased the following week. Increased time from cancer diagnosis and a higher number of prior cancer treatments resulted in worse QOL-PV and SF-12 scores at enrollment.


While changes in QOL scores over the two CTX cycles were statistically significant, the differences were not clinically meaningful. Future studies need to determine the optimal timing of QOL assessments to assess changes associated with cancer treatments.

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