Aim: Most prior survivorship research has focused on issues faced by survivors of childhood tumors, breast cancers, or hematologic malignancies. Little is known about the needs of other prevalent survivor groups. The purpose of this study is to identify the specific concerns of colorectal cancer (CRC) survivors in the key domains of physical functioning, psychological wellbeing, and social relationships.
Methods: We conducted 8 two-hour focus groups with CRC survivors in British Columbia, Canada who had completed their primary cancer treatment between 2009 and 2010. Patients were asked to describe the ways in which their diagnosis and treatment impacted their lives, to outline deficiencies in the care that they received, and to suggest ways of addressing any unmet needs. Discussions were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. A content analysis was subsequently conducted to identify major themes.
Results: Twenty nine patients participated in the focus groups. The median age of the cohort was 60 and 52% were men. Many CRC survivors encountered significant difficulties with caring for their colostomy and desired more direct guidance from healthcare providers in order to gain more independence in this aspect of their health. Importantly, both men and women reported psychological distress with the change in lifestyle and self-image as a result of their diagnosis and treatment. Having survived CRC, many expressed an interest in advocacy and promotion of further research in the field. Many participants also felt that it would be useful to have supportive measures and resources to connect with other CRC survivors who have had similar experiences.
Conclusion: CRC survivors face many challenges after their primary cancer treatment. Issues with colostomy are unique to this survivor group. Interventions to improve CRC survivorship care should also incorporate opportunities for patient advocacy.