Younger breast cancer survivors report distress, lower quality of life

Breast cancer survivors aged younger than 50 years were more likely to report depressive symptoms and distress than controls and older breast cancer survivors, according to study results.

The current study is a systematic review of 840 PubMed and secondary source articles pertaining to health-related quality of life, menopausal symptoms and fertility concerns, and behavioral health outcomes in a cohort of younger breast cancer survivors.

Eligible studies had been published in English after 1989; the final analysis involved 28 articles from 1990 to 2010. There were 15 cross-sectional studies, eight longitudinal studies and five randomized trials reviewed. Eligible studies also included those that exclusively analyzed female breast cancer survivors who were aged younger than 50 years or premenopausal at diagnosis, with baseline characteristics and/or quantitative or descriptive analyses for this particular age group; and those that contained a quality-of-life component that examined physical functioning, mental health, depression and anxiety.

Survivors aged younger than 50 years more frequently reported worse outcomes regarding quality of life and depressive symptoms compared with age-matched controls in the general population and women aged older than 50 years with breast cancer. Women aged 50 years or younger also reported concerns about premature menopause, menopausal symptoms and infertility. These concerns were linked to a level of distress when treatment was completed. Women in this age group also were more likely to report weight gain and physical inactivity.

“These considerations suggest the need to take a more comprehensive and integrative perspective when considering the impact of breast cancer and its treatments on younger women,” the researchers wrote.

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Breast cancer survivors aged younger than 50 years were more likely to report depressive symptoms and distress than controls and older breast cancer survivors, according to study results.

The current study is a systematic review of 840 PubMed and secondary source articles pertaining to health-related quality of life, menopausal symptoms and fertility concerns, and behavioral health outcomes in a cohort of younger breast cancer survivors.

Eligible studies had been published in English after 1989; the final analysis involved 28 articles from 1990 to 2010. There were 15 cross-sectional studies, eight longitudinal studies and five randomized trials reviewed. Eligible studies also included those that exclusively analyzed female breast cancer survivors who were aged younger than 50 years or premenopausal at diagnosis, with baseline characteristics and/or quantitative or descriptive analyses for this particular age group; and those that contained a quality-of-life component that examined physical functioning, mental health, depression and anxiety.

Survivors aged younger than 50 years more frequently reported worse outcomes regarding quality of life and depressive symptoms compared with age-matched controls in the general population and women aged older than 50 years with breast cancer. Women aged 50 years or younger also reported concerns about premature menopause, menopausal symptoms and infertility. These concerns were linked to a level of distress when treatment was completed. Women in this age group also were more likely to report weight gain and physical inactivity.

“These considerations suggest the need to take a more comprehensive and integrative perspective when considering the impact of breast cancer and its treatments on younger women,” the researchers wrote.

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