Little is known about the long-term evolution of Quality of Life (QoL) for breast cancer treated patients. The study aims to describe this evolution of QoL in a group of Belgian breast cancer survivors.
We gathered information on treatment, general health, activity problems, disease symptoms, pain, emotions, work, social activities, self-care, housekeeping, sexuality, and meaning of life. One hundred seventy-four disease-free survivors in Flanders (Belgium) participated in this study, which were grouped as being disease free less than one year (39), between one and five years (70) and more than five years (65). The data allowed us to analyse QoL for different dimensions over the three survivor groups.
The longer the survival time, the more QoL of breast cancer treated patients ameliorated and the less breast cancer had a major impact on QoL. Scores for doing intense activities, being tired, emotional health, social activities, and meaning of life were statistically significantly better in the long-term survivor group. The influence of breast cancer was more persistent for sexual QoL items.
It is important for patients to know what they may expect after treatment. This kind of patient-reported information on the evolution of QoL is of great value to healthcare workers. Results may be used to encourage patients who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer or for patients who do not believe in further progress for some QoL aspects. When informing breast cancer patients, a fundamental difference has to be made between the several QoL aspects and time over which improvements may be expected.