Quality of life (QOL) measurement may aid decision making in the treatment of patients with oesophageal cancer but must be clinically valid to be useful. This study considered if the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer QOL questionnaire, the QLQ-C30, showed differing results in two clinically distinct groups of patients with oesophageal cancer and also investigated the correlation between dysphagia grade and various scales of QOL. Patients treated by oesophagectomy reported significantly better physical, emotional, cognitive, and global health scores than those in the palliative treatment group. Patients who received palliative treatment had significantly worse pain, fatigue, appetite loss, constipation, and dysphagia. The correlations between dysphagia grade and each of the QOL scales and items in both groups of patients were poor. This questionnaire differentiates clearly between the two clinically distinct groups of patients, but to be an entirely appropriate indicator of QOL in patients with oesophageal cancer, an additional specific oesophageal module including a dysphagia scale is required.
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