Aim: Low anterior resection syndrome (LARS) severely affects the quality of life (QoL) of patients after surgery for rectal cancer. There are very few studies that have investigated LARS-like symptoms and their effect on QoL after colon cancer surgery. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of functional abdominal complaints and related QoL after colon cancer surgery compared with patients with similar complaints after rectal cancer surgery.
Method: All patients who underwent colorectal cancer resections between January 2008 and December 2015, and who were free of colostomy for at least 1 year, were eligible (n = 2136). Bowel function was assessed by the LARS score, QoL by the EORTC QLQ-C30 and QLQ-CR29 questionnaires. QoL was compared between the LARS score categories and tumour height categories.
Results: A total of 1495 patients (70.0%) were included in the analyses, of whom 1145 had a colonic and 350 a rectal tumour. Symptoms of LARS were observed in 55% after rectal cancer resection compared with 21% after colon cancer resection. Female gender (OR 1.88, CI 1.392-2.528) and a previous diverting stoma (OR 1.84, CI 1.14-2.97) were independently associated with a higher prevalence of LARS after colon cancer surgery. Patients with LARS after colon cancer surgery performed significantly worse in most QoL domains.
Conclusion: The results of this study highlight the presence of LARS-like symptoms after surgery for colonic cancer. Patients suffering from major LARS-like symptoms after colon resection reported the same debilitating effect on their QoL as patients with major LARS after rectal resection. This should be addressed by colorectal cancer specialists in order to adequately inform patients.