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After cancer treatment, it is desirable to maintain or regain a high quality of life (QoL) and the ability to accomplish everyday tasks well. Therefore, we substantiated the scarce knowledge regarding long-term QoL after breast cancer, burdensome problems, and unmet needs for more support.
Disease-free breast cancer survivors (n = 190) who had participated in two randomized controlled exercise trials during primary treatment were followed up to 5 years post-diagnosis. QoL-related functions and symptoms (EORTC QLQ-C30/-BR23), health problems, and support needs were assessed. EORTC-QLQ scores were compared with age-matched normative values from the general population in Germany.
QoL-related functions and symptoms in patients during cancer treatment were worse compared to healthy references, but largely improved over time. Yet, cognitive function and sleep were still significantly impaired at 5-year follow-up. Other common long-term problems included sexual issues (45% of survivors), hot flashes (38%), pain (34%), fatigue (24%), and polyneuropathy (21%). Regression analyses indicated fatigue having the strongest impact on global QoL. Support needs were expressed mainly for menopausal disorders (43%), physical performance (39%), sleep problems (38%), arthralgia (37%), cognitive problems (36%), weight problems (32%), and fatigue (31%).
While QoL in disease-free breast cancer survivors 5 years post-diagnosis was largely comparable to the general population on average, still many survivors suffered from adverse effects. There appears to be a need for ongoing screening and support regarding fatigue, sleep problems, cognitive problems, arthralgia/pain, menopausal/sexual symptoms, physical performance, and weight problems during and several years following breast cancer therapy.
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- Quality of life, problems, and needs of disease-free breast cancer survivors 5 years after diagnosis
Martina E. Schmidt
- Springer International Publishing