Quality of life among long-term breast cancer survivors: a systematic review

Eur J Cancer. 2005 Nov;41(17):2613-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2005.05.017. Epub 2005 Oct 13.


The aim of this study was to review the literature on quality of life among long-term survivors of breast cancer and identify the specific aspects of quality of life that were affected in these survivors. We also describe predictors of quality of life. Published research reports were included if they described the quality of life of breast cancer survivors diagnosed at least five years earlier. The methodological quality of the 10 selected studies, conducted between 1997 and 2004, was high according to a list of predefined criteria. Most studies reported that long-term survivors of breast cancer experienced good overall quality of life. However, almost all studies reported that breast cancer survivors experienced some specific problems (e.g., a thick and painful arm and problems with sexual functioning). The current medical condition, amount of social support and current income level were strong positive predictors of quality of life, and the use of adjuvant chemotherapy emerged as a negative predictor. More research on the specific medical and psychosocial needs of survivors is needed in order to be able to design appropriate intervention studies. If anything, this review shows that focusing on the long-term effects of breast cancer is important when evaluating the full extent of cancer treatment.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Survivors