Quality of Life in Cancer Patients with Disfigurement due to Cancer and its Treatments

Indian J Palliat Care. 2011 Sep;17(3):184-90. doi: 10.4103/0973-1075.92334.


Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of disfigurement due to cancer and its treatments on quality of life.

Materials and methods: A total of 120 patients from the inpatient/outpatient department of oncology who had undergone various forms of treatment for cancer were included in this study. The WHOQuality of Life BREF (WHOQL-BREF) version was administered to the patients to assess their quality of life.

Results: Patients' overall quality of life score ranged from 34 to 79 with an average of 53.18 (SD 11.94) and a large number of patients had scored from 40 to 54 on the WHOQOL-BREF.The study showed a significant difference between gender groups (t = 3.899, P < 0.05), with a significant difference in the mean quality of life between different categories of the prominent stigma (f = 4.018, P < 0.05) and the nature of stigma. Disfigurement clearly was a stressful experience for both sexes, but substantially more distressing for women. Majority of the patients experienced poor quality of life in all dimensions, namely, physical health, psychological health, social relationships, environmental health, and other sociodemographic variables.

Conclusion: Living with a disfiguring body which is visibly different is not always easy. A sudden change either due to cancer or its treatment or due to side effects leads to significant social maladjustment, elevated anxiety, depression, and poor quality of life among the cancer survivors with body disfigurement which calls for multiprofessional involvement in addressing various psychosocial issues.

Keywords: Cancer; Disfigurement; Quality of life.