Objectives: Increasing survival rates of cervical cancer (CC) patients and the trend towards more toxic multimodal therapy have led to focus on the quality of life (QOL) of cervical cancer survivors (CCSs). The aim of this critical review was to summarize and discuss the research findings of QOL in CCSs based on self-report measures in terms of physical, psychosocial, and sexual well-being.
Methods: Electronic databases were used to identify studies published between 1966 and August 2005. A quality assessment using methodological and treatment-related criteria was performed to distinguish between studies with good and less good methodology.
Results: Twenty-three studies were included, whereof eight had a good methodology. Eight studies used at least one questionnaire that had not been validated previously, and only one of the validated questionnaires had been tested in former studies of CCSs. The studies with good methodology focused primarily on sexual and social function after treatment, and less on physical and psychological well-being. The trend is that radiotherapy is more associated with reduced QOL dimensions than surgery or chemotherapy. In earlier stages of CC and following surgery alone, there seem to be minor differences between CCSs and control groups concerning various QOL domains.
Conclusions: Reviewed studies indicate that quality of life in cervical cancer survivors is reduced compared to the general female population following radiotherapy, but less so following surgery and earlier stages of cervical cancer. Shortcomings of both methodology and content of the studies reviewed preclude definite conclusions concerning QOL for the moment.