Author(s): Casso D, Buist DS, Taplin S
BACKGROUND: The purpose of this report is to examine the correlates of quality of life (QOL) of a well-defined group of long-term breast cancer survivors diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 49. METHODS: Women were eligible if they were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ 5 to 10 years before June 30, 1998 and were enrolled at Group Health Cooperative, a health maintenance organization in western Washington State. A questionnaire was mailed to 290 women; 216 were included in this analysis. The questionnaire included standardized measures of QOL [e.g., the Cancer Rehabilitation Evaluation System (CARES-SF) and SF-36] as well as general demographic and medical information. ANOVA and logistic regression were used to estimate correlates of self-reported QOL. RESULTS: The mean age at diagnosis was 44.4 years, and the average time since diagnosis was 7.3 years. Women reported high levels of functioning across several standardized QOL scales; mild impairment was found on the CARES-SF Sexual Scale. The presence of breast-related symptoms at survey, use of adjuvant therapy, having lower income, and type of breast surgery were significantly associated with lower QOL 5 to 10 years post-diagnosis on one or more of the scales. CONCLUSIONS: Our results emphasize that younger long-term survivors of breast cancer have a high QOL across several standardized measures. However, the long-term consequences of adjuvant therapy and the management of long-term breast-related symptoms are two areas that may be important for clinicians and women with breast cancer in understanding and optimizing long-term QOL.