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



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.

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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.

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Correspondence to Cleo A. Samuel.

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Samuel, C.A., Pinheiro, L.C., Reeder-Hayes, K.E. et al. To be young, Black, and living with breast cancer: a systematic review of health-related quality of life in young Black breast cancer survivors. Breast Cancer Res Treat 160, 1–15 (2016).

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  • Breast cancer
  • Black African-American
  • Premenopausal
  • Quality of life