The following is the summary of “Their Whole Lives Are Going To Change”: A Photo-Elicitation Study of Rectal Cancer Survivorship” published in December 2022 issue of Diseases of the Colon & Rectum by Rivard, et al.

Those who have survived rectal cancer may have unmet needs due to the lingering effects of treatment. The purpose of this research was to use photo-elicitation to learn more about the lived experience of rectal cancer survivors and the effects of treatment.  Patients in this innovative study were asked to document areas of their lives that have proven difficult to manage since receiving treatment. Subsequent qualitative interviews with the participants utilized the images to elicit information. The research placed at a tertiary care hospital’s cancer center. About 20 patients with rectal cancer treated with the hope of a complete cure were included in the study.

The primary outcome measures of this study were interviews with people diagnosed with and treated for rectal cancer. The results showed that physical symptoms, lifestyle adjustments, and changes over time were the 3 most important aspects of life following rectal cancer and its therapies. Common physical complaints included stomach pain, ostomy complications, and urine distress. Variations in food, social life, and hobbies, as well as in major life changes and financial circumstances, were all included. At long last, patients reported lessening symptoms and less interference with daily living. Their results may not be generalizable to younger patients, those with lower socioeconomic level, or those who opted out of the trial due to its homogeneity. Patients who had a complete pathologic response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy made up a disproportionately large portion of their sample, and researchers did not include people who experienced a recurrence. 

Finally, recall bias may have occurred because each person was interviewed just once, at different times during their therapy. This photo-elicitation study offered rectal cancer survivors a novel forum in which to describe the far-reaching effects of treatment for the disease beyond the conventionally measured outcomes of postoperative complications and longevity. Future efforts should center on postoperative symptom surveillance and, if necessary, referral and enhancing preoperative counseling and expectation setting.