Source: Weaver KE. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2012;doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-12-0740.
November 16, 2012
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Cancer survivors face poorer mental, physical health-related quality of life

Source: Weaver KE. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2012;doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-12-0740.
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Millions of cancer survivors in the United States have a below-average mental and physical health-related quality of life, according to study results.

Cancer incidence declined by approximately 1% per year from 2003 to 2007, and cancer mortality has been slowly declining since the 1990s. There are now an estimated 12.6 million cancer survivors in the United States, according to background information in the study.

Previous studies have suggested that cancer survivors have worse health-related quality of life (HRQOL) compared with those without a history of cancer. Despite far-reaching quality-of-life data among cancer survivors, the estimated percentage of survivors with poor mental and physical health HRQOL compared with population norms is unclear, the researchers said.

Kathryn E. Weaver, PhD, of the department of social sciences and health policy at Wake Forest School of Medicine, and colleagues identified cancer survivors (n=1,822) and adults with no cancer history (n=24,804) from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey. The survey assessed key HRQOL domains, including pain, fatigue, mental health, physical health, social health and overall health.

Researchers used the PROMIS Global Health Scale to examine HRQOL.

Survivors of cervical, blood and colorectal cancers had worse physical HRQOL compared with those with no history of cancer, study results showed. This also was true for survivors of cancers with a 5-year survival rate of less than 25%, such as liver, lung and pancreatic cancers.

Patients who survived cervical cancer and survivors of cancers with a 5-year survival rate of less than 25% also had worse mental HRQOL, the study data showed.

A total of 24.5% of survivors reported below-average physical HRQOL compared with 10.2% of adults without cancer. The percentage of survivors with poor physical HRQOL represents a population of approximately 3.3 million people in the United States, according to study results.

A total of 10.1% of cancer survivors reported below-average mental health compared with 5.9% of adults with no cancer history (P<.0001). The percentage of survivors with poor mental HRQOL represents a population of approximately 1.4 million in the United States.

Survivors of melanoma, breast and prostate cancer had a physical and mental HRQOL similar to adults with no cancer history.

“These data are useful for comparing the representatives of other clinic- and state-based samples, identifying potentially vulnerable populations of survivors for clinic and public health interventions, guiding the implementation of plans for survivorship care with the potential to improve HRQOL and determining progress toward national goals of enhancing life after cancer for the growing population of cancer survivors,” Weaver and colleagues wrote.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.