Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 160, Issue 1, pp 1–15 | Cite as

To be young, Black, and living with breast cancer: a systematic review of health-related quality of life in young Black breast cancer survivors

  • Cleo A. SamuelEmail author
  • Laura C. Pinheiro
  • Katherine E. Reeder-Hayes
  • Jennifer S. Walker
  • Giselle Corbie-Smith
  • Shekinah A. Fashaw
  • Cheryl Woods-Giscombe
  • Stephanie B. Wheeler



Compared with young White women, young Black women are more likely to present with aggressive breast cancer (BC) subtypes that are potentially linked to worse health-related quality of life (HRQOL); however, there is limited consensus regarding HRQOL needs among young Black BC survivors. Employing Ferrell’s framework on QOL in BC (i.e., physical, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being), we conducted a systematic review on HRQOL among Black BC survivors aged <50 years and proposed recommendations for advancing HRQOL research and care for this population.


Literature searches were conducted in MEDLINE/PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, and PsycINFO to identify relevant articles published from 1995 to 2015. Abstracts and full-text articles were screened using predetermined inclusion/exclusion criteria and evaluated for quality.


A total of 2533 articles were identified, but six met eligibility criteria. Most studies examined multiple HRQOL domains, with the psychological domain most represented. Compared with their older, White, and BC-free counterparts, young Black BC survivors reported greater fear of dying, unmet supportive care needs, financial distress, and lower physical/functional well-being. However, spiritual well-being appeared favorable for young Black survivors. Research gaps include the absence of longitudinal studies and under-representation of studies examining physical, social, and particularly, spiritual HRQOL in young Black BC survivors.


Young Black BC survivors generally experience suboptimal HRQOL after BC diagnosis. As few studies have reported on HRQOL among this group, future research and oncology care should prioritize young Black women in ways that recognize their unique concerns, in order to ensure better HRQOL outcomes both during and after treatment.


Breast cancer Black African-American Premenopausal Quality of life 



CAS and SBW have received a Research Grant from Pfizer for another unrelated study. This article is dedicated in memory of Meleshia Daye, whose courage and strength as a Young Black Woman with Breast Cancer inspired this contribution to research and clinical practice.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of Interest

All other authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Supplementary material

10549_2016_3963_MOESM1_ESM.docx (13 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 13 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cleo A. Samuel
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  • Laura C. Pinheiro
    • 1
  • Katherine E. Reeder-Hayes
    • 2
    • 6
    • 7
  • Jennifer S. Walker
    • 8
  • Giselle Corbie-Smith
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    • 9
    • 10
  • Shekinah A. Fashaw
    • 1
  • Cheryl Woods-Giscombe
    • 11
  • Stephanie B. Wheeler
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Health Policy and Management, Gillings School of Global Public HealthUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer CenterUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  3. 3.Center for Health Equity ResearchUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  4. 4.Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services ResearchUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  5. 5.North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) InstituteUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  6. 6.UNC Breast CenterNC Cancer HospitalChapel HillUSA
  7. 7.UNC School of Medicine, Division of Hematology/OncologyUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  8. 8.University of North Carolina Health Sciences LibraryChapel HillUSA
  9. 9.Department of Social Medicine, UNC School of MedicineUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  10. 10.Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars ProgramUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  11. 11.School of NursingUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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