Attention to the quality of life (QOL) among long-term of breast cancer is long overdue. Modest improvements in overall survival have led to a greater emphasis on how women are living with the disease. The purpose of this paper is to report the results of a descriptive study that evaluated the quality of life of 294 breast cancer survivors, and to review the continuum of positive and negative QOL outcomes in this population. Members of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) were surveyed and received two QOL instruments: the Quality of Life-Cancer Survivors Tool (QOL-CS) and the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy (FACT-G), and a demographic data tool. The main research variables were the subscales (Physical, Psychological, Social, and Spiritual Well-being) and individual items of the QOL-CS and the FACT-G. Results indicated that: a) fatigue, aches and pains, and sleep problems were persistent after treatment ended; b) psychological distress from cancer diagnosis and treatment, and fear of recurrent, metastatic, and recurrent disease were problematic over time; c) family distress, sexuality, and family burden issues were of greatest social concern; and d) uncertainty over the future plagued breast cancer survivors long-term. Breast cancer survivors also reported good outcomes in hopefulness, having a life purpose, and having a positive change after the treatment.
Conclusions: breast cancer survivors experienced long-term changes after completion of treatment which affected overall quality of life. However, many positive benefits were also gained which helped to balance the worse outcomes.