Quality of life (QOL) is commonly assessed using health-related questionnaires. The Socio-Economic Satisfaction Quality of Life (SES-QOL) questionnaire includes specific individual coping topics, such as health, leisure activities, sexual life, occupation, financial situation, partnership situation, family situation, accommodation situation and friendship situation. This paper reports the findings of the survey with the SES-QOL with an emphasis on changes in satisfaction during the course of a disease involving a gynaecological or breast malignancy. From February 2000 to October 2002, 1030 women diagnosed with breast or gynaecological cancers were included in this study. The patients responded to the SES-QOL questionnaire as part of an interview. Metastatic disease results in more frequent reporting of dissatisfaction with health issues (63%), sexual life (24.5%) and occupation (20%), whereas patients in the adjuvant setting report deteriorating satisfaction with regard to health (41.7%), sexual life (12.2%) and occupation (11.5%). The SES-QOL reflects individual changes in different aspects of satisfaction during the course of a cancer disease. Identifying as many causing variables as possible, and offering support through an interdisciplinary approach including the physician, a social worker and a psycho-oncologist, appears necessary in order to help patients cope with cancer as a dynamic and individual process.