Quality of life in patients with breast cancer before and after diagnosis: an eighteen months follow-up study

BMC Cancer. 2008 Nov 11;8:330. doi: 10.1186/1471-2407-8-330.


Background: Measuring quality of life in breast cancer patients is of importance in assessing treatment outcomes. This study examined the impact of breast cancer diagnosis and its treatment on quality of life of women with breast cancer.

Methods: This was a prospective study of quality of life in breast cancer patients. Quality of life was measured using the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C30) and its breast cancer supplementary measure (QLQ-BR23) at three points in time: baseline (pre diagnosis), three months after initial treatment and one year after completion of treatment (in all 18 months follow-up). At baseline the questionnaires were administered to all suspected identified patients while both patients and the interviewer were blind to the final diagnosis. Socio-demographic and clinical data included: age, education, marital status, disease stage and initial treatment. Repeated measure analysis was performed to compare quality of life differences over the time.

Results: In all, 167 patients diagnosed with breast cancer. The mean age of breast cancer patients was 47.2 (SD = 13.5) years and the vast majority (82.6%) underwent mastectomy. At eighteen months follow-up data for 99 patients were available for analysis. The results showed there were significant differences in patients' functioning and global quality of life at three points in time (P < 0.001). Although there were deteriorations in patients' scores for body image and sexual functioning, there were significant improvements for breast symptoms, systematic therapy side effects and patients' future perspective (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: The findings suggest that overall breast cancer patients perceived benefit from their cancer treatment in long-term. However, patients reported problems with global quality of life, pain, arm symptoms and body image even after 18 months following their treatments. In addition, most of the functional scores did not improve.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Mastectomy
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome