The health of older-adult, long-term cancer survivors

Cancer Nurs. Nov-Dec 2005;28(6):415-24. doi: 10.1097/00002820-200511000-00002.


Research indicates that cancer-related health problems persist for decades among survivors. The combination of late effects of cancer or its treatment and age-related health problems may add to the vulnerability of older survivors. This research reports on the health and functioning of a sample of long-term (5+ years), older-adult (>60 years) survivors of breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer. Data were derived from 321 in-person interviews with a sample randomly selected from a tumor registry at a comprehensive cancer center. Descriptive data analyzed comorbid health conditions and continued cancer symptoms reported by survivors. Correlational analysis examined the association among demographic cancer-related factors and a range of health quality-of-life outcomes, including functioning and illness impact. Nearly 40% of respondents have at least 1 symptom attributed to cancer/treatment. Pain was the most commonly reported symptom, with 21% attributing it to cancer. More than 40% of breast cancer survivors and nearly 20% of prostate cancer survivors reported pain. Being African American or female was significantly associated with more current symptoms and greater functional difficulty. Survivors who had chemotherapy and survivors with more types of treatment reported significantly more symptoms both during treatment and currently. Many older-adult survivors are more vulnerable due to both cancer-related symptoms and comorbid health conditions. Women and African Americans are at special risk. This combined vulnerability is an important factor for clinicians treating long-term survivors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Breast Neoplasms / complications
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Cancer Care Facilities
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / complications
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ohio
  • Pain / etiology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / complications
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Registries
  • Risk Factors
  • Sickness Impact Profile
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survivors / psychology*