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383 Quality of life concerns during and after treatment for advanced breast or cervical cancer in Zambia
  1. K Pfaendler1,
  2. C Mwaba2,
  3. B Maliti2,
  4. E Walubita2 and
  5. G Parham3
  1. 1West Virginia University (WVU) Medicine, USA
  2. 2Cancer Diseases Hospital, Zambia
  3. 3University of North Carolina, USA


Introduction Improving the lives of women with breast and cervical cancer requires a multidimensional approach encompassing the entire continuum of care. Our objective was to identify key quality of life concerns among Zambian women treated for advanced breast and cervical cancer.

Methods Survivors participated in focus groups in their local languages. Common themes were analyzed.

Results Among breast cancer patients, common themes included social support, financial hardships, delayed access to care, and faith. Some family members supported treatment by traditional healers; others reported strong support for hospital-based care. Financial concerns included transportation costs, medical expenses, and children’s school fees. Unavailable or missing test results and other treatment delays posed further stress. Faith wavered near the time of diagnosis but was renewed after completing treatment.

Among cervical cancer patients, common themes included delays in care, financial hardships, and community beliefs that cancer is fatal. Participants described difficulties traveling to the central treatment facility, delays in treatment initiation, and needing to ask others for financial contributions. Many experienced decreased libido and vaginal stenosis. Some had supportive husbands; others experienced marital strife and even abandonment. Among reproductive age women there was confusion over whether pregnancy is possible after treatment.

Conclusions/Implication Survivors of advanced breast and cervical cancer expressed many common concerns. Some started at the time of diagnosis and encompassed treatment choices (traditional vs conventional), finances, and sexual dysfunction. Findings from this study can inform survivorship services and underscore the need to decrease delays in diagnosis and treatment.

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