The purpose of this study was to investigate gender-associated differences in quality of life in colorectal cancer patients and compare such differences to the general population.
Colorectal cancer patients attending three oncological centres in Austria were consecutively recruited and assessed with the EORTC QLQ-C30. For the purpose of comparison, a gender- and age-matched healthy control group was drawn from a representative sample of the Austrian general population.
About 206 patients (47.1% women; mean age 64.8 years) with colorectal cancer were included and compared with 206 persons from the general population. A two-way analysis of variance showed significant main effects (gender and colorectal cancer vs. healthy) for most EORTC QLQ-C30 scales, but a significant interaction effect was only found for diarrhea. This means that gender-associated differences specific for colorectal cancer patients were only found for diarrhea.
The vast majority of studies on gender-associated differences in quality of life compare male and female oncological patients and neglect the issue of the disease-specificity of such differences. Our study revealed that women and men suffering from colorectal cancer scored differently across many aspects of quality of life, but with the exception of diarrhea, these differences were also found in the general population, i.e. they indicated no gender-specific reaction to disease.