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Support Care Cancer. 2008 Oct;16(10):1097-104. doi: 10.1007/s00520-008-0421-5. Epub 2008 Mar 18.

Health behaviors of Australian colorectal cancer survivors, compared with noncancer population controls.

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Viertel Centre for Research in Cancer Control, The Cancer Council Queensland, P.O. Box 201, Spring Hill, Brisbane, 4004, Australia.



A better understanding of health behaviors after a cancer diagnosis is important, as these behaviors are related to physical functioning, disease recurrence, development of second primary cancers, and risk of other chronic diseases. Body weight and health behaviors (smoking status, alcohol consumption, and physical activity) were examined in a population-based sample of colorectal cancer survivors and compared to a matched population group.


Data were collected by telephone interviews pre-diagnosis (retrospectively reported), 6 and 12 months post-diagnosis for colorectal cancer survivors (n = 1,250). Comparison data were from a population-based cancer risk survey (n = 6,277).


Colorectal cancer survivors were most likely to be overweight/obese pre-diagnosis (66%) than at 6 months (54%) or 12 months post-diagnosis (61%). There was little variation from 6 to 12 months in the proportion of current smokers (7% and 8%, respectively) or high-risk drinkers (both 22%). The greatest changes were for physical activity, with 53% of survivor's sufficiently active pre-diagnosis, 32% at 6 months, and 38% at 12 months post-diagnosis. At 12 months, colorectal cancer survivors were more likely than the comparison group to be: underweight (OR = 2.14, 95% CI = 1.38-3.31); a former smoker (OR = 1.44, 95% CI = 1.26-1.63); a low-risk (OR = 1.25, 95% CI = 1.09-1.44) or high-risk drinker (OR = 1.70, 95% CI = 1.43-2.03); and insufficiently active (OR = 1.57, 95% CI = 1.34-1.83) or inactive (OR = 2.76, 95% CI = 2.39-3.19). However, colorectal cancer survivors were significantly less likely to be a current smoker (OR = 0.68, 95% CI = 0.54-0.85).


Our findings show particular scope for physical activity interventions for colorectal cancer survivors. Improving the general health of cancer survivors should help to decrease morbidity in this population and associated health system expenditure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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