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Prospective Dutch colorectal cancer cohort: an infrastructure for long-term observational, prognostic, predictive and (randomized) intervention research

25 augustus 2016



Systematic evaluation and validation of new prognostic and predictive markers, technologies and interventions for colorectal cancer (CRC) is crucial for optimizing patients' outcomes. With only 5-15% of patients participating in clinical trials, generalizability of results is poor. Moreover, current trials often lack the capacity for post-hoc subgroup analyses. For this purpose, a large observational cohort study, serving as a multiple trial and biobanking facility, was set up by the Dutch Colorectal Cancer Group (DCCG).


The Prospective Dutch ColoRectal Cancer cohort is a prospective multidisciplinary nationwide observational cohort study in the Netherlands (yearly CRC incidence of 15 500). All CRC patients (stage I-IV) are eligible for inclusion, and longitudinal clinical data are registered. Patients give separate consent for the collection of blood and tumor tissue, filling out questionnaires, and broad randomization for studies according to the innovative cohort multiple randomized controlled trial design (cmRCT), serving as an alternative study design for the classic RCT. Objectives of the study include: 1) systematically collected long-term clinical data, patient-reported outcomes and biomaterials from daily CRC practice; and 2) to facilitate future basic, translational and clinical research including interventional and cost-effectiveness studies for both national and international research groups with short inclusion periods, even for studies with stringent inclusion criteria.


Seven months after initiation 650 patients have been enrolled, eight centers participate, 15 centers await IRB approval and nine embedded cohort- or cmRCT-designed studies are currently recruiting patients.


This cohort provides a unique multidisciplinary data, biobank, and patient-reported outcomes collection initiative, serving as an infrastructure for various kinds of research aiming to improve treatment outcomes in CRC patients. This comprehensive design may serve as an example for other tumor types.

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Nationwide comprehensive gastro-intestinal cancer cohorts: the 3P initiative

19 juli 2017

Background: The increasing sub-classification of cancer patients due to more detailed molecular classification of tumors, and limitations of current trial designs, require innovative research designs. We present the design, governance and current standing of three comprehensive nationwide cohorts including pancreatic, esophageal/gastric, and colorectal cancer patients (NCT02070146). Multidisciplinary collection of clinical data, tumor tissue, blood samples, and patient-reported outcome (PRO) measures with a nationwide coverage, provides the infrastructure for future and novel trial designs and facilitates research to improve outcomes of gastrointestinal cancer patients.

Material and methods: All patients aged 18 years with pancreatic, esophageal/gastric or colorectal cancer are eligible. Patients provide informed consent for: (1) reuse of clinical data; (2) biobanking of primary tumor tissue; (3) collection of blood samples; (4) to be informed about relevant newly identified genomic aberrations; (5) collection of longitudinal PROs; and (6) to receive information on new interventional studies and possible participation in cohort multiple randomized controlled trials (cmRCT) in the future.

Results: In 2015, clinical data of 21,758 newly diagnosed patients were collected in the Netherlands Cancer Registry. Additional clinical data on the surgical procedures were registered in surgical audits for 13,845 patients. Within the first two years, tumor tissue and blood samples were obtained from 1507 patients; during this period, 1180 patients were included in the PRO registry. Response rate for PROs was 90%. The consent rate to receive information on new interventional studies and possible participation in cmRCTs in the future was >85%. The number of hospitals participating in the cohorts is steadily increasing.

Conclusion: A comprehensive nationwide multidisciplinary gastrointestinal cancer cohort is feasible and surpasses the limitations of classical study designs. With this initiative, novel and innovative studies

can be performed in an efficient, safe, and comprehensive setting.

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The impact of postoperative complications on health-related quality of life in older patients with rectal cancer; a prospective cohort study

10 oktober 2017

Objectives: As result of the aging population and increasing rectal cancer incidence, more older patients undergo treatment for rectal cancer. This study compares treatment course, postoperative complications, and quality of life (QOL) between older and younger patientswith rectal cancer and evaluates the impact of postoperative complications on QOL in the elderly.

Materials and Methods: Patients with rectal cancer participating in a prospective colorectal cancer cohort and referred for radiotherapy between 2013 and 2016 were included. QOL was assessed with the cancer questionnaire of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC QLQ-C30) before treatment and at three, six, and twelve months. Outcomes were compared between older patients (≥70 years) and younger patients (b70 years) and stratified by presence of postoperative complications.

Results: In total, 115 (33%) older patients and 230 (67%) younger patients were included. Compared to younger patients, older patients underwent significantly more often short-course radiation with delayed surgery (6.1% and 19.1% respectively) and less often chemoradiation (62.6% and 39.1% respectively), and were more likely to undergo a Hartmann procedure with permanent stoma (3.5% and 13.0% respectively) instead of sphincter-sparing surgery (43.9% and 29.6% respectively). Postoperative complication rates were similar (38.5% in older patients versus 34.7% in younger patients). Older patients had worse physical functioning at six and twelve months after diagnosis compared to younger patients. Presence of postoperative complications had a significant stronger impact on physical- and role functioning in older patients.

Conclusion: Older patients undergo more often a tailored treatment approach for rectal cancer than younger patients.With this tailored approach, similar postoperative complication rates and QOL are achieved. However, postoperative complications have a larger negative impact on physical- and role functioning in older patients

which indicates a need for better prediction of postoperative complications in the elderly.

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Effect of Neoadjuvant Therapy and Rectal Surgery on Health-related Quality of Life in Patients With Rectal Cancer During the First 2 Years After Diagnosis

21 maart 2018

The present study describes the trends in quality of life (QOL) of 272 rectal cancer patients treated with neoadjuvant therapy and surgery £ 2 years after diagnosis. During and shortly after treatment, QOL declined substantially and recovered toward pretreatment levels thereafter. However, the functioning scores remained lower compared with the Dutch general population, with postoperative treatment-related symptoms frequently reported.

Introduction: Rectal cancer surgery with neoadjuvant therapy is associated with substantial morbidity. The present study describes the course of quality of life (QOL) in rectal cancer patients in the first 2 years after the start of treatment. Patients and Methods: We performed a prospective study within a colorectal cancer cohort including rectal cancer patients who were referred for neoadjuvant chemoradiation or short-course radiotherapy and underwent rectal surgery. QOL was assessed using the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer core questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C30) and colorectal cancer questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-CR29) before treatment and after 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months. The outcomes were compared with the QOL scores from the Dutch general population and stratified by low anterior resection and abdominoperineal resection. Postoperative bowel dysfunction after low anterior resection was measured using the low anterior resection syndrome score.

Results: Of the 324 patients, 272 (84%) responded to at least 2 questionnaires and were included in the present study. Compared with pretreatment levels, the strongest decline was observed in physical, role, and social functioning at 3 and 6 months after the start of treatment. Global health and cognitive functioning declined to a lesser extend, and emotional functioning gradually improved over the time. Within 24 months, the QOL scores had recovered toward the pretreatment levels in most patients. Compared with the general population, physical, role, social, and cognitive functioning and symptoms of fatigue and insomnia remained significantly worse in patients on longer-term. After low anterior resection, major bowel dysfunction was reported by 44% to 60% of the patients. Increasing urinary incontinence and severe complaints of impotence were observed in patients who had undergone abdominoperineal resection.

Conclusion: Rectal cancer treatment is associated with a significant decline in QOL during the first 6 months after the diagnosis. Within 2 years, most patients return toward pretreatment functioning but could still experience poorer functioning and treatment-related symptoms compared with the general population. These findings support shared decision-making and emphasize the need for postoperative supportive care and novel treatment approaches.

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