Aim: The low anterior resection syndrome (LARS) severely affects quality of life (QoL) after colorectal cancer surgery. There are no data about these complaints and the association with QoL in a reference population. The aim of this study was to assess LARS and the association with QoL in a reference population.
Methods: Six hundred patients who visited the outpatient clinic because of general or trauma surgical indications were asked to participate in this study. They received an invitation letter containing three validated questionnaires to assess LARS (assessed with the LARS score) and both general [European Organization for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) QLQ-C30] and colorectal-specific (EORTC QLQ-CR29) QoL.
Results: Five hundred and one respondents could be included for the analyses. The median age at inclusion was 68 years and 47.3% were men. Major LARS was observed in 15% of patients (11.4% in men and 18.9% in women, P = 0.021). Women reported more urgency (P = 0.070) and incontinence for both flatus (P < 0.001) and stool (P = 0.063) compared to men. In univariate analyses, women reported major LARS significantly more often than men (OR 1.82; 95% CI 1.10-3.01). Patients with major LARS scored significantly worse in most QoL domains compared to patients with no/minor LARS.
Conclusion: This is the first study demonstrating major LARS and the association with QoL in a reference population of patients without colorectal cancer. Our data can assist in the interpretation of LARS in past and future research about abdominal complaints after colorectal cancer surgery.