Partnership status affects the association between gastrointestinal symptoms and quality of life after radiation therapy for prostate cancer

<div><p></p><p><i>Purpose.</i> To study if partnership modifies the effect of gastrointestinal symptoms on quality of life after radiation therapy for prostate cancer. <i>Material and methods.</i> Using a study-specific questionnaire we conducted a cross-sectional follow-up of the occurrence gastrointestinal symptoms and quality of life after radiation therapy for prostate cancer. We obtained information from 874 prostate cancer survivors treated with radiation therapy at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Sweden between 1994 and 2006. In this paper we describe how partnership status affects the association between gastrointestinal symptoms and quality of life. <i>Results.</i> We found that unpartnered men with gastrointestinal symptoms reported a lower quality of life than unpartnered men without such symptoms. Unpartnered men with symptoms had an excess risk of low quality of life compared with unpartnered men without symptoms for those experiencing altered composition of stools, prevalence ratio 3.8 (95% CI 1.1–13.1), leakage, 3.6 (1.3–10.1), sensory bowel symptoms, 4.5 (1.6–12.8), and for urgency, 4.2 (1.2–15.1). We also found that unpartnered men with symptoms had an excess risk of low quality of life compared with partnered men with symptoms for those experiencing altered composition of stools, prevalence ratio 2.9 (95% CI 1.4–5.8), leakage 2.8 (1.2–6.4), sensory bowel symptoms 3.4 (1.5–7.4), urgency 2.6 (1.2–5.8), and for any gastrointestinal symptom 2.5 (1.3–4.9). <i>Conclusion.</i> Unpartnered men may represent a group that is specifically vulnerable to the distressful effects of gastrointestinal symptoms after radiation therapy for prostate cancer.</p></div>