Health-related quality of life (HRQL) outcomes are important in assessing new approaches to the treatment of cancer. Neoadjuvant therapy is being used increasingly before surgery in patients with localized oesophageal cancer. This prospective non-randomized study evaluated HRQL in patients treated by preoperative chemotherapy and radiation therapy followed by surgery (multimodal therapy) or by surgery alone. Data from European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer quality of life questionnaires QLQ-30 and QLQ-OES24 were collected prospectively. Questionnaires were completed at diagnosis, after chemoradiotherapy where applicable, and at 3, 6 and 12 months after surgery. The study included 202 consecutive patients with oesophageal cancer considered suitable for curative (R0) resection at the time of staging. Eighty-seven patients received chemotherapy combined with external-beam radiotherapy before surgery. At baseline, 75 (86 percent) of 87 patients in the multimodal group completed questionnaires, compared with 72 (62.6 percent) of 115 in the surgery-alone group. There were no significant differences in baseline global HRQL scores between groups. Preoperative chemoradiotherapy significantly reduced physical (P=0.004) and role (P=0.007) functioning before surgery, despite a significant (P=0.043) improvement in the dysphagia score. Oesophageal resection had a negative impact on global, functional and symptom HRQL scores at 3 months in both groups. Most variables had recovered by 6 months in the two groups, but at 12 months physical and role functioning remained impaired in the surgery-alone group, and social functioning and financial worries in the multimodal group. Although the multimodal regimen had a negative impact on HRQL before surgery, postoperative quality of life in patients who had multimodal therapy was similar to that in those who had surgery alone.
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