Introduction/Background*Due to the improved prognosis of patients with breast cancer, health-related quality of life has become increasingly important. The aim of the study is to evaluate the potential impact of different epidemiological, oncological and treatment parameters on the quality of life at different stages of diagnosis, treatment and follow-up in order to help improve and individualize the support for patients with breast cancer.
Methodology Between January 2019 and January 2021, 189 breast cancer patients were included. The quality of life was assessed using the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire (EORTC-QLQ-C30) and a German questionnaire quantifying psychological distress (FBK-R10) at three distinct time points: At initial diagnosis as well as after six and 12 months. Sociodemographic and clinical data were also included.
Result(s)*Both the subjective quality of life and the perceived health condition differed significantly between the three time points (p<0.01). After six months, the reported quality of life was significantly lower in all age groups. However, there was a significant improvement in the quality of life after 12 months. There was a trend to full rehabilitation in women age 50 to 69. Further, quality of life was significantly lower in patients undergoing treatment compared to patients in follow-up (p=0.01). Moreover, these patients suffered significantly more frequently from psychological distress (p=0.035) and sexual dysfunction (p<0.05). There was a significant correlation between the EORTC and FBK-R10 questionnaires (p<0.05), suggesting a correlation between quality of life and psychological distress.
Conclusion*The quality of life decreased significantly during the first six months after diagnosis, identifying this time as a period of particular need for a multidisciplinary support system. In addition, patients undergoing treatment should receive special attention given their lower quality of life, greater psychological distress and substantially more sexual dysfunction. A significant improvement in quality of life can be observed 12 months after the initial diagnosis. Future studies should focus on how to regain an improved quality of life earlier and how to implement support systems based on the patients’ different needs at different times during the course of the disease.
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