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07-02-2019 | Uitgave 6/2019 Open Access

Quality of Life Research 6/2019

Diversity in changes of HRQoL over a 1-year period after radiotherapy in Norwegian breast cancer patients: results of cluster analyses

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 6/2019
Magdalena Anna Lazarewicz, Dorota Wlodarczyk, Steinar Lundgren, Randi Johansen Reidunsdatter
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s11136-019-02127-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Magdalena Anna Lazarewicz and Dorota Wlodarczyk should be considered joint first authors.

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The diversity in long-term changes in health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among breast cancer (BC) survivors is poorly understood. The aim of this study was to identify clusters of trajectories (subgroups of patients with similar patterns of changes) of selected HRQoL domains over a 1-year period after radiotherapy (RT) in BC patients.


The group consisted of 250 BC patients referred for postoperative RT. Global quality of life (QoL), functions, and cancer-specific symptoms were assessed using the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) core Quality of Life Questionnaire (QLQ-C30) before starting RT, at completion of RT and 3, 6, and 12 months after RT. A hierarchical cluster analysis was used to identify possible trajectories of HRQoL domains.


Three distinct types of clusters of trajectories were identified for all outcome variables: Type 1 clusters encompassing the rather time-stable high-global QoL cluster, high-functioning clusters, and low-symptom clusters (44–98% of patients), Type 2 clusters with medium levels of HRQoL domains (8–49%), Type 3 clusters encompassing low-global QoL, low-functioning, and high-symptoms clusters (2–51%).


Our results demonstrated a noticeable heterogeneity of changes in HRQoL domains after BC treatment. The findings support the importance of an accurate patient-reported HRQoL assessment as a routine element of BC survivors’ care. The pre-RT assessment of HRQoL alone allows to predict the course of HRQoL changes over the 1-year period after RT and the risk of “falling into” low functioning clusters.

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