In the UK a Patient Reported Outcome Measurement (PROM) tool has been recently validated that robustly reports quality of life measures (QoL) for patients with locally recurring rectal cancer (LRRC). This is known as the LRRC-QoL.

This study aims to translate this tool for use by a global community and validate it for patients overseas. The study will involve cross cultural translation of the existing LRRC-QoL across a number of European partners, including Germany, France, Denmark and the Netherlands. Once this is complete the study will move on to test how effective the tools are short term with a view to fully validating these for use across participating countries.

The researchers

This PhD study will be led by Ms Dina Harji from the Leeds Institute for Clinical Trials Research.

Why develop a worldwide QoL tool for locally recurrent rectal cancer?

The improvements in surgical technique, radiological imaging and oncological treatments for primary rectal cancer have led to dramatic reductions in the incidence of locally recurrent rectal cancer (LRRC), from 30-40% to 5-10% over the last few decades.

Though this downward trend is welcome, in those patients for whom rectal cancer does reocurr it can have a devastating impact. Symptoms associated with LRRC can be debilitating and include chronic pelvic pain, bleeding, and recurrent sepsis. Without treatment, survival is poor, with a mid range survival of 6-7 months. Radiotherapy alone, or in combination with chemotherapy can improve survival to 12-14 months. Radical surgery allows for cure with 5 year survival rates of 35-45%, but the outcomes of surgery for the patient can be costly in terms of their resulting quality of life.

Finding a tool to aid decisions on treatment for surgeons, oncologists, patients and their families, particularly around palliative surgery and/or care is vital with this difficult and complex disease scenario. Expanding the PROM worldwide increases the pool of available data and will therefore enhance the quality of the final version of the LRRC-QoL. Data gathered can also be used in future clinical trials to drive further improvements in treatment and patient management.