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Keywords:

  • cervical cancer;
  • quality of life;
  • radiation therapy

Aims and objectives

To evaluate the quality of life in hospitalised patients with cervical cancer treated by radiation therapy.

Background

Aside from clinical variables, the quality of life should be considered in the planning and monitoring of the therapeutic process in patients with cancer. Although it is widely known that this parameter can have a considerable impact on the therapeutic outcome, it is not routinely screened in oncological patients.

Design

Survey.

Methods

The study was performed in six cancer centres in Poland between June 2004–December 2005, and included 205 women hospitalised for any stage of cervical cancer. The EORTC QLQ-C30 questionnaire (v.3) was used to evaluate the patients' quality of life. The survey was conducted three times: (1) stage 1 – before treatment, on admission, (2) stage 2 – after treatment, at discharge, and (3) stage 3 – five to six months after treatment.

Results

Physical functioning was assessed the worst before the radiation treatment and increased gradually throughout further stages; all interstage differences proved to be significant. In contrast, emotional functioning was scored the highest before the initiation of the treatment and was the lowest at stage 2, a difference that proved to be significant. Role functioning was highest immediately after the treatment and the lowest prior to the treatment. Differences between stages proved to be significant. Financial problems increased their negative impact on the quality of patients' lives significantly throughout consecutive stages of this study. Age and cancer stage did not significantly influence the way participants perceived their global health, physical, cognitive, emotional and social functioning, nor their financial difficulties. Overall, the quality of life was evaluated as highest immediately after the end of radiotherapy.

Conclusion

Although this study revealed that patients with cervical cancer subjected to radiotherapy are satisfied with their global quality of life, attention should be paid to certain dimensions of the latter (i.e. emotional functioning and role functioning) during post-treatment period.

Relevance to clinical practice

The ability to performing everyday activities independently is perceived as the most important during all stages of the cervical cancer treatment, and therefore, appropriate support in this matter is necessary on the part of the nursing personnel.