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Quality of Life After Esophagectomy for Cancer

Margot Roberts Sweed
Linda Schiech
Andrea Barsevick
James S. Babb
Melvyn Goldberg
ONF 2002, 29(7), 1127-1131 DOI: 10.1188/02.ONF.1127-1131

Purpose/Objectives: To examine symptoms and quality of life (QOL) of esophagectomy patients after curative surgery.

Design: Longitudinal, descriptive pilot study.

Setting: Comprehensive cancer center in the northeastern United States.

Sample: 23 patients were surveyed: 20 men and 3 women. The mean age was 62.3 years.

Methods: The European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-C30 (version 2.0) and the esophageal-specific module were used. Data collection included three or four time points: before neoadjuvant treatment (if administered), before surgery, and three and six months after surgery.

Main Research Variables: The effects on symptoms and QOL of curative esophagectomy performed by a thoracic surgical oncologist.

Findings: Global QOL declined slightly over time; this change was not statistically significant. A significant inverse relationship was found between symptom intensity and global QOL. The intensity of hoarseness, reflux, and diarrhea increased significantly pre- to postsurgery. The average symptom intensity for the esophageal-specific subset of 24 symptoms increased significantly over time; the greatest intensity was found before surgery.

Conclusions: Over the six-month observation period, the study found little average change in global QOL or functional status. However, symptoms increased significantly during this time period. Increased symptoms were associated with decreased QOL.

Implications for Nursing: Symptom management should focus on symptoms that interfere with patients' QOL. Further research should target the evaluation of specific interventions for symptoms.

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