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Which cancers most affect life after remission?

Breast cancer survivors have similar quality of life to those who never had cancer

Topics: Outcomes, Quality, Performance Improvement, Patient Experience, Oncology, Service Lines

November 09, 2012

Survivors' quality of life can vary widely depending on the type of cancer they had, according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology.

Researchers compared the quality of life of 1,822 cancer survivors with that of 24,804 adults without cancer. Using a 10-item questionnaire, respondents were asked to rate a number of measures, including physical functioning, depression, pain, and fatigue. The data were taken from CDC's 2010 national health survey.

The study found that survivors of melanoma, breast, and prostate cancers had a mental and physical quality of life similar to those who never had cancer.

However, survivors of cervical, blood, and colorectal cancers and cancers with a five-year survival rate below 25% had a worse physical quality of life. In addition, survivors of cervical cancer and cancers with a low five-year survival rate reported a worse quality of life in terms of mental health.

The study found that 25% of cancer survivors had lower than normal quality of life for physical reasons, while 10% had a lower than average quality of life for mental reasons. In all, about 3.3 million U.S. residents who have survived cancer have a below average physical quality of life, and nearly 1.4 million have a below average mental quality of life, the researchers estimated.

In an interview on Tuesday, lead study author Kathryn Weaver said that the findings are important because there are several ways physicians and lawmakers can improve quality of life for cancer survivors. Addressing their needs also is vital because the population—currently about 12.6 million individuals—is expected to continue increasing, the study noted (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 11/6 [subscription required]).

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