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01-05-2014 | Uitgave 4/2014

Quality of Life Research 4/2014

Gender-specific quality of life after cancer in young adulthood: a comparison with the general population

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 4/2014
Kristina Geue, Annekathrin Sender, Ricarda Schmidt, Diana Richter, Andreas Hinz, Thomas Schulte, Elmar Brähler, Yve Stöbel-Richter



Over the last years, adolescents and young adults with cancer (AYA) have moved strongly into scientific focus. However, there have only been a few studies about the quality of life of the AYA group, and gender differences have very rarely been examined.


A cross-sectional study was conducted with young adult cancer patients who were aged 18–39 years at the time of survey and had completed their acute treatment. We used the quality of life questionnaire European Organization for the Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-Core 30 (EORTC QLQ-C30). The EORTC QLQ-C30 contains five function scales (physical, role, emotional, cognitive and social), nine symptom scales and a global quality of life scale. The patient sample was compared to a gender- and age-matched representative sample (REP).


Compared to the general population (N = 585), significantly poorer quality of life (p = .001) was observed for the 117 young cancer patients (40 male, 77 female) on all scales and items of the EORTC QLQ-C30. Analyses of variance with the factors group (AYA vs. REP) and gender showed interaction effects for the physical (p < .012), emotional (p < .029) and cognitive function scales (p < .008) and fatigue (p < .026) as well as for the items insomnia (p < .011), constipation (p < .037) and financial difficulties (p < .026). The pattern of the interaction was that female cancer patients reported the lowest quality of life outcomes. The same effects were found for the three calculated sum scales function, symptom and total.


Results clearly indicate that young adult cancer patients have a reduced quality of life in comparison with the general population even long after the treatment of their disease is complete. Women had a lower quality of life than men. Age-specific interventions should be offered that lead to improvements in quality of life for this age group. And future studies should clarify what factors lead to women’s quality of life being worse than men’s.

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