Changes in quality of life among breast cancer patients three years post-diagnosis

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2009 Mar;114(2):357-69. doi: 10.1007/s10549-008-0008-3. Epub 2008 Apr 14.


Objectives: To evaluate changes in quality of life (QOL) and identify medical and socio-demographic predictors of QOL among breast cancer survivors 3 years after diagnosis.

Methods: Between April 2002 and March 2004 2,232 women with breast cancer were recruited into the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study, a population-based cohort study, approximately 6 months after cancer diagnosis. QOL was evaluated at 6 and 36 months post-diagnosis using the General Quality of Life Inventory. Multiple linear regression models were used to evaluate changes in QOL and their associations with socio-demographic and medical factors.

Results: In general, breast cancer patients showed significant improvement over time in the physical, psychological, and social well-being domains, as well as overall QOL. However, QOL scores in several facets did not improve or even deteriorated, including increased negative feelings, reduced social support and interpersonal relationships, and worsened financial situation and living environment. Age at diagnosis was inversely associated with QOL changes in physical and psychological well-being and overall QOL scores. Compared with those who were disease-free, patients with a recurrence of disease had significantly poorer QOL scores across all well-being domains and almost all facets. Patients who received radiotherapy experienced significant improvements in physical and social well-being and overall QOL. Mixed ER/PR status was associated with improved scores in physical and psychological well-being and overall QOL. Education, body mass index, Charlson comorbidity score, TNM stage, type of surgery, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy were only associated with changes in certain well-being domains and/or facets, but not overall QOL. Tamoxifen use was not associated with changes in QOL outcomes.

Conclusions: Our study provides valuable information for developing strategies/interventions for improving the QOL of breast cancer patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Survivors