Patient-reported Bowel Function and Bowel-related Quality of Life After Pelvic Radiation for Rectal Adenocarcinoma: The Impact of Radiation Fractionation and Surgical Resection

Michael K. Rooney, Brian De, Kelsey Corrigan, Grace L. Smith, Cullen Taniguchi, Bruce D. Minsky, Ethan B. Ludmir, Eugene J. Koay, Prajnan Das, Albert C. Koong, Oliver Peacock, George Chang, Y. Nancy You, Van K. Morris, Graciela Nogueras-González, Emma B. Holliday

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: Multimodality treatment for locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC) can include long-course radiotherapy (LCRT) or short course radiotherapy (SCRT). Nonoperative management is increasingly pursued for those achieving a complete clinical response. Data regarding long-term function and quality-of-life (QOL) are limited. Methods: Patients with LARC treated with radiotherapy from 2016 to 2020 completed the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy- General (FACT-G7), the Low Anterior Resection Syndrome Score (LARS) and the Fecal Incontinence QOL Scale (FIQOL). Univariate and multivariable linear regression analyses identified associations between clinical variables including radiation fractionation and the use of surgery versus non-operative management. Results: Of 204 patients surveyed, 124 (60.8%) responded. Median (interquartile range) time from radiation to survey completion was 30.1 (18.3-43) months. Seventy-nine (63.7%) respondents received LCRT, and 45 (36.3%) received SCRT; 101 (81.5%) respondents underwent surgery, and 23 (18.5%) pursued nonoperative management. There were no differences in LARS, FIQoL or FACT-G7 between patients receiving LCRT versus SCRT. On multivariable analysis, only nonoperative management was associated with lower LARS score signifying less bowel dysfunction. Nonoperative management and female sex were associated with a higher FIQoL score signifying less disruption and distress from fecal incontinence issues. Finally, lower BMI at the time of radiation, female sex, and higher FIQoL score were associated with higher FACT-G7 scores signifying better overall QOL. Conclusions: These results suggest long-term patient-reported bowel function and QOL may be similar for individuals receiving SCRT and LCRT for the treatment of LARC, but nonoperative management may lead to improved bowel function and QOL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-221
Number of pages11
JournalClinical colorectal cancer
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Incontinence
  • Long-course
  • Low anterior resection syndrome
  • Radiotherapy
  • Total mesorectal excision
  • Humans
  • Defecation/physiology
  • Fecal Incontinence/etiology
  • Adenocarcinoma/radiotherapy
  • Quality of Life
  • Female
  • Rectal Neoplasms/radiotherapy
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy/methods
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Oncology


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