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Abstract

Objective

Ten years after diagnosis, women diagnosed with breast cancer at age 50 or younger were assessed to determine whether quality of life (QOL) problems found at five years persisted. We predicted that QOL in the physical and social domains would be poorer, but improvements would be found in the psychological domain.

Methods

We re-interviewed 312 women, who had been interviewed at their five year anniversary and remained cancer free, on their QOL in three domains (physical, social, and psychological). Comparisons between their 5- and 10-year reports were performed using paired t-tests for numeric variables and McNemar's test for categorical variables. Multiple regression analysis was used to model change from 5 to 10 years in each QOL domain, given the level of QOL at 5 years.

Results

The women's mean age was 55, 60% were college graduates, 79% had a partner, and 27% were non-Euro-American. Ten years after diagnosis they reported poorer general health (p<0.0001) and physical well-being (p = 0.001), less sexual activity (p = 0.009), and more chronic conditions (p<0.0001) than at 5 years. Relationships were found between: (1) the number of chronic conditions at 5 years and decreased physical, social, and psychological well-being at 10 years; and (2) a smaller social network at 5 years and poorer social functioning at 10 years.

Conclusions

Certain aspects of both physical and social QOL worsened over time. The remaining question is whether these changes can be attributed to the late effects of treatment or to normal effects of aging.

Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.