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Quality of life and physical performance and activity of breast cancer patients after adjuvant treatments



Objective: The study aimed at investigating the quality of life (QoL) and physical performance and activity, and their interrelations, in Finnish female breast cancer patients shortly after adjuvant treatments.

Methods: A total of 537 disease-free breast cancer survivors aged 35–68 years were surveyed at the beginning of a one year randomized exercise intervention. The patients were interviewed using EORTC QLQ-C30, FACIT-F, RBDI, and WHQ (for vasomotor symptoms) questionnaires. Physical performance was tested by a 2 km walking test. Physical activity was measured by a questionnaire and a prospective two-week diary. Multivariate analysis was used to study the factors associated with QoL.

Results: About 26% of the patients were rated as depressed, 20.4% as fatigued, and 82% suffered from menopausal symptoms. The global QoL was lower than in general population (69.4 vs 74.7, p<0.001). About 62% of the walking test results were below the population average. Fatigue (p<0.001), depression (p<0.001), body mass index (p = 0.016) and comorbidity (p = 0.032) impaired, and physical activity (p = 0.003) improved QoL. Physical activity level correlated positively to physical performance (r = −0.274, p<0.0001).

Conclusions: The QoL of the patients shortly after adjuvant treatments was impaired and the physical performance poor as compared to general population. In particular, depression and fatigue were related to impaired QoL. Physical performance and activity level were the only factors that correlated positively to QoL. Thus, physical exercise could be useful in rehabilitation of cancer survivors, especially for depressed and fatigued patients. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.