Improve Breast Cancer Outcomes By Enhancing Quality of Life
Posted Jan 10 2011 10:29am
It is clear that breast cancer can have a major negative impact on a breast cancer survivor's quality of life. This is generally due to physical and emotional issues as well as the high level of stress associated with breast cancer treatments. While this is clear, it is less clear how a reduction in a breast cancer survivor's quality of life might impact long-term breast cancer outcomes like recurrence and survival. Two new breast cancer research studies have recently examined this issue.
In the first of these two breast cancer studies , 125 women with metastatic breast cancer completed a depression symptom questionnaire at the start of the study. After completion of the questionnaire, the breast cancer patients were separated into two groups; the control group received educational materials to read and use, while the treatment group received treatment for depression. Three additional depression symptom questionnaires were given over the course of the first year after the diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer. The results of this study showed that breast cancer patients whose depression increased during the first year survived an average of about 2 years (25 months), while breast cancer patients whose depression decreased during this time survived an average of 4.5 years (54 months).
In the second breast cancer study , 2,230 breast cancer survivors who took part in the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survivor Study completed a quality of life questionnaire 6 months after breast cancer diagnosis. Over 1,800 of these breast cancer survivors completed this quality of life assessment again 1.5 years after breast cancer diagnosis. The link between quality of life and breast cancer recurrence and overall mortality was analyzed. The breast cancer researchers reported that breast cancer survivors with the highest level of quality of life at the 6-month time point had a 48% reduced risk for breast cancer recurrence and a 38% reduced risk of death compared to breast cancer survivors with the lowest quality of life scores. Furthermore, quality of life scores at the 36-month time point were not linked to breast cancer outcomes in this study.
Both of these new breast cancer studies suggest that enhancing the quality of life of breast cancer survivors might improve breast cancer survival and reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Importantly, both of these studies suggest that the first year after breast cancer diagnosis is the time when enhancing a breast cancer patient's quality of life appears to be most important. Therefore, finding way to improve quality of life, whether by professional treatment of depression, finding ways to reduce stress, or developing positive social interactions can be an important part of the fight against breast cancer.