Life after radiotherapy: the psychological and social effects experienced by women treated for advanced stages of cervical cancer

Gynecol Oncol. 2000 Jan;76(1):5-13. doi: 10.1006/gyno.1999.5644.


Purpose: The aim of this study was to describe the psychological and social reactions of women with advanced stages of cancer of the cervix during and after radiotherapy.

Methods: A questionnaire about health-related quality of life was used, which consisted of the EORTC QLQ-C30 and additional specific questions. One-hundred eighteen patients filled out the questionnaire at the end of treatment and 1, 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months later. The scores from the disease-free patients were compared to those from 236 healthy controls.

Results: Many patients experience psychological and social consequences at the end of treatment and 1 to 3 months later. Patients continue to think about their illness and treatment throughout the 24-month study period, but find it increasingly hard to share their worries with others. Their score on overall quality of life never reaches that of the controls.

Conclusion: Disease-free patients treated for cancer of the cervix with radiotherapy have psychological reactions. The interpretation of the results should take into consideration that the patients change their personal frame of reference over the course of time. Professionals should be aware of patients' needs to talk about their disease long after treatment. Patients should be informed about the risk of psychological reactions. The more information about possible symptoms they receive the better their ability to cope with them should they arise.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Support
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / pathology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Vaginal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Vaginal Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Vaginal Neoplasms / radiotherapy*