2 studies find patients have lower health-related quality of life after cancer diagnosis

Jun 10, 2009

Cancer patients who are older than 65 years have poorer physical health and, in some cases, mental health when compared with people of the same age group without cancer, according to a study in the June 9 online issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Because health-related quality of life (HRQOL) before is not often measured, the impact of cancer on HRQOL is poorly understood.

To quantify the changes before and up to 2 years after , Bryce B. Reeve, of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues looked at changes in HRQOL from 1998 through 2003 in 1,432 patients aged 65 years or older. They compared the patients who were enrolled in Medicare managed care plans with 7,160 matched control subjects, by using data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registry linked with Medicare Health Outcomes Survey (MHOS).

For patients diagnosed with prostate, breast, bladder, colorectal, kidney, or non-small cell lung cancers, or non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the researchers observed a statistically significantly greater decline in physical health of patients compared with control subjects without cancer. They also found that patients with prostate, colorectal, or non-small cell experienced statistically significantly decreased mental health relative to matched control subjects without cancer.

"We expect this study to provide a benchmark for capturing the burden of cancer on HRQOL and an evidence base for future research and clinical interventions aimed at understanding and remediating these effects," the authors write.

In another study, also published in this issue, John L. Gore, of the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues describe HRQOL outcomes among patients 48 months after treatment for localized prostate cancer. This team, which used questionnaires that measure generic physical and mental health, as well as dysfunction specific to prostate cancer treatment, found that urinary incontinence was more common after prostatectomy than after brachytherapy or external beam radiation therapy and that sexual dysfunction "profoundly" affected all treatment groups.

"These results may guide decision making for treatment selection and clinical management of patients with health-related quality-of-life impairments after treatment for localized prostate cancer," the authors write.

In an accompanying editorial, Pamela J. Goodwin, M.D., and Srikala S. Sridhar, M.D., of the Princess Margaret Hospital and the Samuel Lunenfield Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto reiterate the importance of the studies, but point out several limitations to both.

They point out that Reeve et al. left out younger age groups, had a short study period, and produced findings not sufficiently linked to specific cancer treatments to assist patients with making decisions about treatment. Gore et al., according to the editorialists, did not address multimodality treatment and the impact of this combined approach--a growing trend for patients with aggressive disease.

"These two reports have added to our knowledge about quality of life in cancer
patients," the editorialists write. "However, further research is needed to better understand the short and longer term impact of cancer diagnosis and treatment on overall quality of life, especially as screening becomes more common, our anticancer treatments improve, and patients live longer after a diagnosis of cancer."

Source: Journal of the National Cancer Institute (news : web)

Explore further: Pepper and halt: Spicy chemical may inhibit gut tumors

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Racial disparities persist in cancer care

Jan 07, 2008

A new study finds that, despite efforts in the last decade to mitigate cancer treatment disparities, black patients are significantly less likely than white patients to receive therapy for various types of cancer. The authors ...

Recommended for you

Pepper and halt: Spicy chemical may inhibit gut tumors

5 hours ago

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that dietary capsaicin – the active ingredient in chili peppers – produces chronic activation of a receptor on cells lining ...

Expressive writing may help breast cancer survivors

7 hours ago

Writing down fears, emotions and the benefits of a cancer diagnosis may improve health outcomes for Asian-American breast cancer survivors, according to a study conducted by a researcher at the University of Houston (UH).

Taking the guesswork out of cancer therapy

12 hours ago

Researchers and doctors at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) have co-developed the first molecular test ...

Brain tumour cells found circulating in blood

13 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—German scientists have discovered rogue brain tumour cells in patient blood samples, challenging the idea that this type of cancer doesn't generally spread beyond the brain.

International charge on new radiation treatment for cancer

14 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Imagine a targeted radiation therapy for cancer that could pinpoint and blast away tumors more effectively than traditional methods, with fewer side effects and less damage to surrounding tissues and organs.

User comments : 0