Background: By current estimates there are more than 10.8 million cancer survivors in the United States. Increasingly, oncologists are realizing that despite the "success" of cancer therapies, cancer survivors are facing previously unrecognized psychosocial issues related to cancer survivorship. In GI cancers, the medical and surgical oncologists charged with the care of the patient are not well-equipped to deal with these issues. At our institution's GI Cancer Survivorship Clinic, we utilize a multi-disciplinary model, led by surgical oncologists, that includes psychologic and pastoral support as a priority. The goal of this study was to assess our patients' quality of life (QOL) in order to better understand their survivorship needs and to optimize survivor care. Materials and Methods: Patients with upper GI malignancies undergoing post-treatment evaluation completed the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spirituality Scale (FACIT-Sp) questionnaire that includes five domains of QOL: physical well being; social/family well being; emotional well being; functional well being; and spiritual well being. Results: The results of our evaluation of health related QOL in a sample of 99 patients revealed higher self-reported QOL than those seen in a normative sample of cancer patients. Social/family well being was strongly associated with total QOL scores, and married patients reported higher social/family well being, as well as higher overall QOL. Conclusions: Cross-sectional evaluation of health related QOL in our patients revealed higher self-reported QOL than those seen in a normative sample of general cancer patients. Despite aggressive surgical and medical treatment for malignancies with a generally poor prognosis, the results of our pilot study suggest that cancer survivors treated and followed in a multidisciplinary setting can experience acceptable health-related QOL.
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