Quality of life among women with symptomatic, screen-detected, and interval breast cancer, and for women without breast cancer: a retrospective cross-sectional study from Norway

Qual Life Res. 2022 Apr;31(4):1057-1068. doi: 10.1007/s11136-021-03017-7. Epub 2021 Oct 26.


Purpose: Breast cancers detected at screening need less aggressive treatment compared to breast cancers detected due to symptoms. The evidence on the quality of life associated with screen-detected versus symptomatic breast cancer is sparse. This study aimed to compare quality of life among Norwegian women with symptomatic, screen-detected and interval breast cancer, and women without breast cancer and investigate quality adjusted life years (QALYs) for women with breast cancer from the third to 14th year since diagnosis.

Methods: This retrospective cross-sectional study was focused on women aged 50 and older. A self-reported questionnaire including EQ-5D-5L was sent to 11,500 women. Multivariable median regression was used to analyze the association between quality of life score (visual analogue scale 0-100) and detection mode. Health utility values representing women's health status were extracted from EQ-5D-5L. QALYs were estimated by summing up the health utility values for women stratified by detection mode for each year between the third and the 14th year since breast cancer diagnosis, assuming that all women would survive.

Results: Adjusted regression analyses showed that women with screen-detected (n = 1206), interval cancer (n = 1005) and those without breast cancer (n = 1255) reported a higher median quality of life score using women with symptomatic cancer (n = 1021) as reference; 3.7 (95%CI 2.2-5.2), 2.3 (95%CI 0.7-3.8) and 4.8 (95%CI 3.3-6.4), respectively. Women with symptomatic, screen-detected and interval cancer would experience 9.5, 9.6 and 9.5 QALYs, respectively, between the third and the 14th year since diagnosis.

Conclusion: Women with screen-detected or interval breast cancer reported better quality of life compared to women with symptomatic cancer. The findings add benefits of organized mammographic screening.

Keywords: Breast cancer screening; EQ-5D-5L; Interval breast cancer; Quality of life; Symptomatic breast cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life* / psychology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires