PURPOSE: This study was a latitudinal descriptive effort to understand the degree of quality of life of patients who had undergone a rectal cancer operation. METHODS: The Korean versions of European Orgaization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC)-Quality of life Questionnaire 30 (QLQ-C30) and Colorectal Cancer-specific Core Questionnaire (QLQ-CR38) were used to examine the degree of quality of life of patients who had undergone a rectal cancer operation. The subjects of this study were 155 patients who had been diagnosed as having rectal cancer and who had received an anterior resection (AR), a low anterior resection (LAR), or an abdominoperineal resection (APR). RESULTS: In our study, patients' responses were combined and converted to a 0-100 scale according to the guidelines provided by the EORTC Center. From these guidelines, high functional scores (0-100) represent good function and high symptom scores (100-0) signify more problems. The APR patients had their social and family life disrupted (social functioning) and were less able to get about and look after themselves (physical functioning), and they felt themselves to be less attractive (body image). In addition, the scores for stoma problems were worse than those for pain and for male sexual problems. The AR patients and the LAR patients, despite suffering diarrhea, symptoms of insomnia, and defecation problems, had better quality of life than the APR patients without anorectal function. CONCLUSION: If the quality of life of rectal cancer patients is to be maintained and their rate of survival is to be increased, an understanding of the patients' situation, education on self-management related to stoma, and active provision of support from medical teams to solve the discomfort caused by the operation are needed.