Breast Cancer Survivors Show Comparable Quality of Life

Most women who undergo surgery and treatment from breast cancer recover from the acute effects of their treatment and have a quality of life comparable to that of other women their age, a California expert said here during the 9th International Congress on Breast Diseases.

Dr. said quality of life studies comparing women who have had breast cancer to comparable women of the same age show little difference in their perceptions of how healthy and happy they are.

Early on, when we deal with a woman with breast cancer or a woman with metastatic disease, aspects of her treatment will dominate the quality of life, but most women recover.

One study comparing the body images of women who had undergone partial mastectomy to that of women who had undergone lumpectomy showed little difference between the two groups.

One issue that is important for women with breast cancer is menopause. “We promote premature menopause” with chemotherapy, the impact of that in younger women is more significant than in older women.”

A study of 862 women in California and Washington, D.C. compared menopausal symptoms of the breast cancer patients to women in a breast cancer prevention trial. Twice as many women who had had breast cancer were bothered by hot flashes as were those in the healthy group.

Nearly 42 percent of the cancer survivors reported vaginal dryness compared to 14 percent of the healthy group. Breast cancer survivors were more likely to report weight gain, which is often associated with adjuvant therapy.

If we look at symptoms alone, we can see important and subtle areas of difference. But overall comparisons reveal little difference between the two groups.

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