, Volume 62, Issue 2, pp 141-150

Quality of life after adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer

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Abstract

Purpose.To evaluate the quality of life of breast cancer patients previously treated with adjuvant chemotherapy.

Method.Registry data were used to recruit a sample of breast cancer patients (N = 61; mean age = 51.6 years) with no current evidence of disease who had completed adjuvant chemotherapy between 3 and 36 months earlier (average = 15.87 months). In addition, a peer nomination procedure was used to recruit an age-matched comparison group of women with no history of cancer (N = 59; mean age = 51.5 years). Both groups were mailed a survey to complete that included the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 36 (SF-36) and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). These data were used to test the hypothesis that breast cancer patients previously treated with adjuvant chemotherapy experience impaired quality of life relative to their peers and to identify demographic and medical factors associated with individual differences in patient quality of life.

Results.Consistent with predictions, the postchemotherapy group scored poorer than the noncancer comparison group on the CES-D and on six of the eight subscales as well as the physical component summary scale of the SF-36 (p < 0.05). With regard to individual differences in patient quality of life, younger age and unmarried status were positively related to poorer mental well-being and greater depressive symptomatology (p < 0.05). Time since cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy completion were also positively related to greater depressive symptomatology (p < 0.05). In contrast, none of the demographic or medical variables assessed were related to physical well-being (p > 0.05).

Conclusions.Breast cancer patients appear to experience problems in multiple quality of life domains following the completion of adjuvant chemotherapy treatment. Demographic and medical characteristics explain individual differences in mental but not physical aspects of patient quality of life. These findings demonstrate the need for interventions to improve the quality of life in breast cancer patients previously treated with adjuvant chemotherapy.