Unmet needs of breast cancer patients relative to survival duration

Yonsei Med J. 2012 Jan;53(1):118-25. doi: 10.3349/ymj.2012.53.1.118.


Purpose: The present study aims to evaluate the prevalence of unmet needs among breast cancer survivors, to assess the relationships between unmet needs and depression and quality of life, and to explore the extent to which unmet needs of breast cancer patients relate to the time elapsed since surgery.

Materials and methods: Among 1,250 eligible patients who participated in the study, 1,084 cases (86.7%) were used for analysis. Clinicopathological and social parameters were reviewed and the Supportive Care Needs Survey, Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy- Breast cancer instrument, and Beck Depression Inventory were administered. The frequency of unmet needs, the association between unmet needs and depression and/or quality of life (QOL) and the impact of the time elapsed since surgery on the patients' unmet needs were analyzed.

Results: The highest levels of unmet needs were found to be in the health system and information domain. Patients with a survival duration of less than 1 year since surgery showed significantly higher unmet needs in all need domains except the sexuality domain (p<0.001) than participants in the other groups. Patients with a survival duration of 1-3 years also experienced significantly higher psychological and information needs than long-term survivors (>5 years). In addition, unmet needs were significantly associated with depression (p<0.001) and QOL (p<0.001).

Conclusion: The present study demonstrated that long-term breast cancer survivors had a significantly lower level of unmet needs than patients with survival duration of less than 3 years after surgery and patients with survival duration of less than 1 year since surgery suffered the greatest unmet needs. QOL might be enhanced if interventions are made for specific unmet needs of each patient group.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / mortality
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life*
  • Republic of Korea / epidemiology
  • Social Support*