The health and well-being of cancer survivors in the UK: findings from a population-based survey

Br J Cancer. 2011 Nov 8;105 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S11-20. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2011.418.


Background: To compare self-reported health and well-being in a sample of cancer survivors with individuals who have not had cancer and with individuals who have a serious chronic condition other than cancer.

Patients and methods: A cross-sectional survey drawn from an online panel of 400,000 UK citizens supplemented with other online recruitment and telephone recruitment. The participants were 4892 individuals 30 years of age or above, including 780 individuals with a previous cancer diagnosis, 1372 individuals with one or more of 10 chronic conditions but not cancer and 2740 individuals without a previous cancer diagnosis or chronic condition. Thirteen measures of health and well-being were constructed from answers to 25 survey items covering physical, psychological and social dimensions of health and well-being.

Results: Cancer survivors were significantly more likely to report poor health outcomes across all 13 measures than those with no history of cancer or a chronic condition. The adjusted odds ratios for cancer survivors with no chronic conditions compared with healthy participants ranged from 1.37 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.31-1.96) for emotional well-being to 3.34 (95% CI: 2.74-4.08) for number of health professionals consulted in the last 12 months. The health profile of cancer survivors was similar to those with a history of a serious chronic health condition.

Conclusions: A substantial number of individuals who have had a diagnosis of cancer experience ongoing poor health and well-being following cancer and cancer treatment. The results of this study provide an initial basis for the development of specific help and support for cancer survivors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Quality of Life
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology