As survival rates of colon cancer increase, knowledge about functional outcomes is becoming ever more important. The primary aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to quantify functional outcomes after surgery for colon cancer. Secondly, we aimed to determine the effect of time to follow-up and type of colectomy on postoperative functional outcomes.
A systematic literature search was performed to identify studies reporting bowel function following surgery for colon cancer. Outcome parameters were bowel function scores and/or prevalence of bowel symptoms. Additionally, the effect of time to follow-up and type of resection was analyzed.
In total 26 studies were included, describing bowel function between 3 to 178 months following right hemicolectomy (n = 4207), left hemicolectomy/sigmoid colon resection (n = 4211), and subtotal/total colectomy (n = 161). In 16 studies (61.5%) a bowel function score was used. Pooled prevalence for liquid and solid stool incontinence was 24.1% and 6.9%, respectively. The most prevalent constipation-associated symptoms were incomplete evacuation and obstructive, difficult emptying (33.3% and 31.4%, respectively). Major Low Anterior Resection Syndrome was present in 21.1%. No differences between time to follow-up or type of colectomy were found.
Bowel function problems following surgery for colon cancer are common, show no improvement over time and do not depend on the type of colectomy. Apart from fecal incontinence, constipation-associated symptoms are also highly prevalent. Therefore, more attention should be paid to all possible aspects of bowel dysfunction following surgery for colon cancer and targeted treatment should commence promptly.

Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Ltd.