Introduction: Quality of life (QOL) appraisal is a meaningful method of outcomes assessment in patients with gastrointestinal (GI) cancer. The aim of our study was to evaluate QOL of patients suffering from GI cancer, who underwent treatment at Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), Karachi, Pakistan.
Methods: It was a cross-sectional study. A total of 158 adults from December 2020 to May 2021 were included in the study. The EORTC QLQ-C30, validated in Urdu (Pakistan) version, was used to assess the QOL of the participants. Mean QOL scores were calculated and compared with threshold of clinical importance (TCI). Multivariate analysis was done to analyse the correlation between independent factors and QOL scores. A p value of <0.05 was considered as significant.
Results: Mean age of the study participants was 54.5 ± 13 years. Majority were male, married and living in combined family system. Most common GI cancer was colorectal (61%) followed by stomach (33.5%); and the most frequent stage at presentation was stage III (40%). Global QOL score was found to be 65.48 ± 1.78. Among functioning scales, role functioning, social functioning, emotional functioning and cognitive functioning were found to be above TCI, whereas physical functioning was found to be below TCI. Among symptom scores, fatigue, pain, dyspnoea, insomnia, appetite loss, constipation and diarrhoea were found to be below TCI, whereas nausea/vomiting and financial impact were found to be above TCI. Multivariate analysis revealed that history of surgery had a positive association (p < 0.001), while being on treatment (p = 0.001) and having a stoma (p = 0.038) had a negative impact on global QOL.
Conclusion: This is the first study to evaluate the QOL scores in GI cancer patients in Pakistan. There is a need to identify the reasons for low physical functioning score and explore means to mitigate symptoms scores above TCI in our population.