Lifestyle Interventions for Colorectal Cancer Survivors Improve Some Outcomes

A recent meta-analysis of patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) indicated that lifestyle interventions including physical activity, diet, or comprehensive programs have potential to increase levels of physical activity and quality of life (QOL) among survivors of CRC. Results of the analysis were reported in the journal Cancer Nursing.

As survival rates with CRC improve over time, survivors may be left susceptible to other challenges. The researchers who conducted this meta-analysis aimed to determine whether lifestyle interventions tested in randomized, controlled trials have been able to show impacts on outcomes for survivors of CRC.

The meta-analysis included information obtained from searches of PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library databases. Included literature sources had been published from January 1, 1990, to November 1, 2021. The research team searched these sources for relevant information to analyze relationships between lifestyle interventions and outcomes such as physical activity levels, QOL, mental health assessment, and anthropometric data.

Included patients were adult survivors of primary nonmetastatic CRC who had completed their courses of therapy. Survivors were categorized in an intervention group and a control group. The intervention group had been involved in studies including measures related to change of at least 1 lifestyle factor, while the control group had been given a placebo, no intervention, or routine treatment.

Twelve studies were included in the analysis, which spanned regions of Asia, Europe, Oceania, and North America. Among participants of these studies, 1122 had completed the follow-up.

In their meta-analysis of these studies, the researchers found associations between lifestyle changes and improvements in some parameters. These included metabolic equivalent task (MET) levels (weight mean difference [WMD], 10.40; 95% CI, 5.30-15.49; P <.001), physical activity time (WMD, 9.84; 95% CI, 1.20-18.48; P =.026), and Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy Scale – Colorectal scores (WMD, 3.12; 95% CI, 0.24-5.99; P =.034).

Some parameters did not appear to change in association with lifestyle interventions. For example, no improvements were seen in fatigue, depression, anxiety, waist circumference, or body mass index with lifestyle interventions.

However, the researchers considered lifestyle interventions to have the potential to show changes in physical activity time, MET levels, and QOL in survivors of CRC. “Future research should be directed toward promoting healthy lifestyle changes in CRC survivors and exploring how to better support their completion,” the researchers wrote in their report.


Zhou T, Cai W, Wang W, Wang L. Effects of lifestyle interventions on health and life quality of colorectal cancer survivors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Cancer Nurs. Published online April 24, 2023. doi:10.1097/NCC.0000000000001166

This article originally appeared on Oncology Nurse Advisor