Transhiatal resection for oesophageal cancer is a major operation with potentially severe physical, emotional and social consequences. The aim of this study was to assess various aspects of quality of life in long-term survivors following oesophageal resection for cancer.
Between January 1993 and May 1996, 100 consecutive patients with cancer of the oesophagus or oesophagogastric junction underwent a potentially curative transhiatal oesophagectomy. Patients with a minimum follow-up of 2 years and with no tumour recurrence (n = 35) were mailed questionnaires which consisted of: (a) the Short Form-36 Health Survey to assess general quality of life, (b) an adapted Rotterdam Symptom Checklist to assess disease-specific quality of life, and (c) additional questions about other effects of the operation.
All patients returned the questionnaire. General quality of life was comparable with reference values for the same age group. However, more than half of the patients still experienced at least some early satiety, fatigue, dysphagia, heartburn and/or psychological irritability. Nine of 13 patients who worked in paid employment before operation continued to do so.
Patients who survive 2 years or more after transhiatal oesophageal resection for cancer can lead satisfactory lives. Although some residual symptoms may persist, their general quality of life is similar to that of healthy individuals of the same age. © 2000 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd