Surviving cancer: a comparison of 5-year disease-free breast cancer survivors with healthy women

Psychooncology. 2005 Apr;14(4):307-17. doi: 10.1002/pon.848.


Women with breast cancer are one of the largest groups of cancer survivors. This research examined whether breast cancer has a long-term impact on quality of life (QOL) by comparing 5-year disease-free survivors to age-matched controls and by comparing women who sustained a recurrence to disease-free survivors. Controls were recruited using the neighborhood control methodology. QOL (physical, emotional, social, and spiritual) was assessed during in-person interviews. There were no differences between disease-free survivors (n = 267) and controls (n = 187) on many indicators of QOL. However, survivors reported more difficulties with physical functioning, more physical symptoms, and more faith than did controls (all ps < 0.05). Compared to disease-free survivors, survivors with a recurrence (n = 37) had a worse QOL on most indices, less positive affect, more general fatigue, and more intrusive and avoidant thoughts (all ps < 0.05). There were no differences between the two groups of survivors on indices of marriage, work experiences, or spirituality. These findings suggest that the QOL of long-term survivors who remain disease-free is comparable to that of women their age with the exception of physical functioning. Women who sustain a recurrence suffer an impaired QOL in some, but not all, domains.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / psychology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Reference Values
  • Self-Help Groups
  • Sick Role
  • Survivors / psychology*