Little prospective data exist on quality of life (QOL) after pelvic exenteration (PE). This ongoing study prospectively examines the QOL-changes following this radical procedure using a comprehensive battery of psychological instruments.
Since 2005, enrolled patients were interviewed (EORTC QLQ-C30, EORTC QLQ-CR38, EORTC QLQ-BLM30, BFI, BPI-SF, IADL, CES-D, IES-R) preoperatively and at 3, 6, and 12 months after PE for physical/psychological symptoms. Data were examined using repeated measure ANOVA.
Sixteen women (3 anterior, 1 posterior, and 12 total PE’s), with more than one year of follow up, completed all scheduled interviews. Median age was 58 years (28–76). Overall QOL (F=6.3, p<0.02), ability to perform instrumental daily activities (F=6.8, p<0.02), body image (F=11.9, p<0.00) and sexual function (F=8.0, p<0.01) all declined at 3 months but were near baseline by 12 months after PE. Although, overall, physical function followed a similar trend (F=14.8, p<0.00), it did not return to baseline. At the 12-month interview, patients reported increased gastrointestinal symptoms (F=8.9, p<0.01) but significantly less stress-related ideation (F=6.1, p<0.03) compared to baseline. Pain levels did not change significantly during the study period (F=0.4, p<0.74).
Although patients report lingering gastrointestinal symptoms and some persistent decline in physical function after PE, most adjust well, returning to almost baseline functioning within a year. Providers can counsel patients that many, though not all, symptoms in the first 3 months following exenteration are likely to improve as they adapt to their changed health status. These preliminary results await confirmation of a larger analysis.