Age at Diagnosis and Quality of Life in Breast Cancer Survivors


  • This research was supported by a supplement to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center core grant, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, 3P30 CA 46592-10S2.

Address for correspondence: Bernadine Cimprich, PhD, RN, 400 N. Ingalls, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109-0482.


purpose: The purpose of the study was to determine the relationship between life-stage variables (ie, age at diagnosis and years of survival) and quality-of-life (QOL) outcomes in long-term survivors of breast cancer.

description of study: In this cross-sectional study, 105 long-term survivors of breast cancer participated in a mailed survey assessing QOL. Participants were selected from a cancer center tumor registry using a stratified random-sampling procedure that was based on age at diagnosis. The Quality of Life-Cancer Survivors scale was used to assess QOL outcomes in the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual domains.

results: Long-term survivors of breast cancer who had received diagnoses at an older age (> 65 years) showed significantly (P < .05) worse QOL outcomes in the physical domain, while those who had received diagnoses at a younger age (27–44 years) showed worse QOL outcomes in the social domain than other age groups. A nonlinear relationship was observed, with long-term survivors who had received diagnoses in middle age (45–65 years) showing better QOL outcomes in the physical domain and in overall QOL. Age at diagnosis and years of survival were significant predictors of QOL outcomes.

clinical implications: These findings indicate that the life stage at diagnosis can help to predict long-term QOL outcomes in breast cancer survivors. Educational strategies to help oncology professionals develop a better understanding of the impact of age at diagnosis may be important in developing tailored interventions that respond to the specific needs of breast cancer survivors at each life stage.