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Symptoms and Quality of Life in Colorectal Cancer Patients during Chemotherapy

Patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) might face a range of challenges during their cancer treatment. Symptom control early in the treatment phase might help to prevent, treat and assure a good follow-up in these patients.

exhausted man

Patients with CRC reported an average symptoms like worrying (65%), lack of energy (59%), feeling drowsy (54%), feeling bloated (53%), pain (51%), and difficulty sleeping (50%). Photo: Colourbox

About the project

This prospective study is a part of a larger longitudinal study of symptom clusters in oncology patients. Patients with curative or palliative CRC were eligible for inclusion.


To determine the occurrence, severity, and distress of multiple symptoms and Health Related Qality of life (HRQoL) in patients with palliative or adjuvant CRC, at the initiation of Chemotherapy (CTX), and during a treatment period of 6 months.

Furthermore to identify demographic and clinical characteristics that might influence the treatment trajectory.


Patients with CRC reported an average of 10 co-occurring symptoms prior to their first CTX treatment or prior to the initiation of a new CTX regimen. Worrying (65%), lack of energy (59%), feeling drowsy (54%), feeling bloated (53%), pain (51%), and difficulty sleeping (50%) were the most prevalent symptoms. Problems with sexual interest had the highest severity and distress scores in both groups. The most commonly occurring symptoms may not always be the most severe or distressing symptoms.


We used “The Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale” (MSAS) that includes 32 questions about symptoms that may occur as a result of cancer or its treatment with additon of the symtoms severity and distress.

To evaluate for HRQoL The Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form (SF-12) was used .


  • Department of Nursing Science, University of Oslo


  • University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)

Start - finish

2014 - 2018


  • Røhrl K,Guren MG, Miaskowski C, Cooper BA, Diep LM, Rustøen T. No Differences in Symptom Burden Between Colorectal Cancer Patients Receiving Curative versus Palliative Chemotherapy, 2016 Jul 25, doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2016.04.008. [Epub ahead of print]
Published Sep. 2, 2016 2:34 PM - Last modified Sep. 6, 2016 10:49 AM


  • Kari Røhrl
  • Tone Rustøen
  • Marianne Grønlie Guren, MD, PhD, Department of Oncology, OUH, Oslo
  • Christine Miaskowski, RN, PhD, FAAN, Professor and Associate Dean at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
Detailed list of participants