Comparison of younger and older breast cancer survivors and age-matched controls on specific and overall quality of life domains




Younger survivors (YS) of breast cancer often report more survivorship symptoms such as fatigue, depression, sexual difficulty, and cognitive problems than older survivors (OS). This study sought to determine the effect of breast cancer and age at diagnosis on quality of life (QoL) by comparing 3 groups: 1) YS diagnosed at age 45 years or before, 2) OS diagnosed between 55 and 70, and 3) for the YSs, age-matched controls (AC) of women not diagnosed with breast cancer.


Using a large Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) database, 505 YS were recruited who were aged 45 years or younger when diagnosed and 622 OS diagnosed at 55 to 70 years of age. YS, OS, and AC were compared on physical, psychological, social, spiritual, and overall QoL variables.


Compared to both AC and to OS, YS reported more depressive symptoms (P = .005) and fatigue (P < .001), poorer self-reported attention function (P < .001), and poorer sexual function (P < .001) than either comparison group. However, YS also reported a greater sense of personal growth (P < .001) and perceived less social constraint (P < .001) from their partner than AC.


YS reported worse functioning than AC relative to depression, fatigue, attention, sexual function, and spirituality. Perhaps even more important, YS fared worse than both AC and OS on body image, anxiety, sleep, marital satisfaction, and fear of recurrence, indicating that YS are at greater risk for long-term QoL problems than survivors diagnosed at a later age. Cancer 2014;120:2237–2246. © 2014 American Cancer Society.