Long-term health outcomes in a British cohort of breast, colorectal and prostate cancer survivors: a database study

Br J Cancer. 2011 Nov 8;105 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S29-37. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2011.420.


Background: The community-based incidence of cancer treatment-related long-term consequences is uncertain. We sought to establish the burden of health outcomes that have been associated with treatment among British long-term cancer survivors.

Methods: We identified 26,213 adults from the General Practice Research Database who have survived 5 years or more following breast, colorectal or prostate cancer. Four age-, sex- and general practice-matched non-cancer controls were selected for each survivor. We considered the incidence of treatment-associated health outcomes using Cox proportional hazards models.

Results: Breast cancer survivors had an elevated incidence of heart failure (hazards ratio (HR) 1.95, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.27-3.01), coronary artery disease (HR 1.27, 95% CI 1.11-1.44), hypothyroidism (HR 1.26, 95% CI 1.02-1.56) and osteoporosis (HR 1.26, 95% CI 1.13-1.40). Among colorectal cancer survivors, there was increased incidence of dementia (HR 1.68, 95% CI 1.20-2.35), diabetes (HR 1.39, 95% CI 1.12-1.72) and osteoporosis (HR 1.41, 95% CI 1.15-1.73). Prostate cancer survivors had the highest risk of osteoporosis (HR 2.49, 95% CI 1.93-3.22).

Conclusions: The study confirms the occurrence of increased incidence of chronic illnesses in long-term cancer survivors attributable to underlying lifestyle and/or cancer treatments. Although the absolute risk of the majority of late effects in the cancer survivors cohort is low, identifying prior risk of osteoporosis by bone mineral density scanning for prostate survivors should be considered. There is an urgent need to improve primary care recording of cancer treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology