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Survivors Getting Better and Better

Posted 11/14/2013

Posted in

This is a feel good article. A recent study from the University of Toronto, published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology, found that longtime breast cancer survivors had basically the same quality of life as other women who had not had cancer. This does not surprise me in spite of the growing emphasis on possible medium and longterm side effects. Most women do well, and most of us find ways to adapt to changes or problems that we experience.

It is distressing that there were differences between the breast cancer survivors and the matched controls in the areas of cognition and finances. Cognition, yes, not a shock as we all read a lot about the impact of chemotherapy and hormonal therapy and estrogen deprivation on mental acuity (with the caveat that this is a common problem for all women as they age). The financial part is more of a surprise to me. Of course there are unusual expenses associated with the time of treatment, and of course some women lose income or work less during that period. I would have guessed, incorrectly it seems, that those differences had evened out a decade later. I do know a few women who lost their jobs during or after cancer and were never able to find a comparable position, and I surely know a few women who chose to make professional changes, opting for emotional gratification or less stress and pressure instead of a higher salary.

Here is the review from Medscape. I give you the start and a link:

Breast Cancer Survivors Getting Better All the Time

Study Summary: The purpose of the prospective study was to investigate quality of life (QOL) in women diagnosed with breast cancer who are long-term survivors.

In all, 535 women with stage I-III breast cancer were recruited postoperatively at the University of Toronto hospitals from 1989 to 1996. Postmenopausal women were included starting in 1992. Between 2005 and 2007, surviving patients were invited to participate in long-term follow-up. A control group was recruited from women presenting for screening mammography.

Several validated questionnaires (the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire Core 30 [EORTC QLQ C-30], Profile of Mood States [POMS], Psychosocial Adjustment to Illness Scale [PAIS], Impact of Events Scale [IES], Short Form 36 [SF-36®] Health Survey, and Fatigue Symptom Inventory [FSI]) were administered. All of these are known instruments for the assessment of mood, function, fatigue, and all other domains understood to constitute QOL measures. Researchers assessed changes in QOL in 8 broad categories.


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