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GI Symptoms Persist in Most Female Colorectal Cancer Survivors

Most common symptoms include bloating/gas, constipation, diarrhea

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 9, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Female colorectal cancer (CRC) survivors experience a high burden of gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, according to a study recently published in PLOS ONE.

Claire J. Han, from The Ohio State University in Columbus, and colleagues used data from the Women’s Health Initiative Life and Longevity After Cancer study to characterize persistent GI symptoms after cancer treatments among 413 female CRC survivors.

The researchers found that during a mean 8.1 years since diagnosis, 81 percent of CRC survivors experienced persistent GI symptoms, including most commonly bloating/gas (54.2 percent), followed by constipation (44.1 percent), diarrhea (33.4 percent), and abdominal/pelvic pain (28.6 percent). Time since cancer diagnosis (less than five years), advanced cancer stage, high psychological distress, poor dietary habits, and low physical activity were significant risk factors for GI symptoms. For long-term GI symptoms, fatigue and sleep disturbance were the most significant risk factors (β = 0.21 and β = 0.20, respectively). There were positive associations observed between high severity of GI symptoms and poor quality of life, increased daily life interferences (social and physical functions), and low body image satisfaction.

“GI symptoms among survivors have been underinvestigated in the past, but we found that they are very prevalent even up to 25 years after diagnosis, suggesting it’s very important to consider GI symptom management as part of their survivorship care,” Han said in a statement.

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