Objective: Little is known about how quality of life (QOL) changes over time after gastrectomy. We prospectively examined changes of QOL in Korean patients with gastric cancer after curative resection.
Background: As early detection and improved treatment have led to higher survival rates and an increasing number of long-term survivors, the importance of QOL has increased.
Methods: Patients newly diagnosed with gastric cancer, who were expected to undergo curative resection, were studied. QOL was assessed, using the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer QLQ-C30 and its gastric module QLQ-STO22, before and after 3 and 12 months of gastrectomy.
Results: In total, 465 patients were included in the study, and 377 and 88 patients underwent subtotal gastrectomy and total gastrectomy, respectively. For most of the functional or symptom scales, the mean score deteriorated at 3 months and generally improved during follow-up period. Patients with total gastrectomy had more functional and symptomatic problems related to QOL than those with subtotal gastrectomy during the follow-up. For both groups, there were temporal, unrecovered, improved, and unchanged problems in QOL. Fatigue; digestive symptoms such as diarrhea, dysphagia, and eating restrictions; body image disturbance; and cognitive functioning were the representative unrecovered problems, which persisted at 12 months after surgery.
Conclusions: Our findings show that there are various functional and symptomatic problems, which health care providers need to manage during the postsurgical period. We need to continuously address fatigue, diarrhea, dysphagia, eating restrictions, body image disturbance, and cognitive functioning. In addition, it would be necessary to inform patients about possible QOL outcomes while they are receiving information about surgery and signing informed consent for surgery.