Introduction: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common cancers in the UK. Quality of life (QoL) is increasingly being recognised as an important endpoint in the management of CRC. Methods: Publications describing QoL in CRC were identified using Medline (PubMed) and PsychINFO. Reference lists of these articles were used to identify other relevant publications. Results: Seventy-two publications described QoL changes in CRC. These were grouped into three categories: studies of psychological and psychiatric morbidity in CRC patients, QoL and survival in CRC and effects of psychological intervention on QoL and survival. Conclusion: Assessment of QoL is becoming increasingly important but is not routinely performed in CRC. Standard, validated and reliable questionnaires to evaluate the impact of cancer and its treatment in patients are available. There is an increasing need to establish comprehensive biopsychosocial databases to evaluate the relationship between QoL and survival in CRC.