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Ann Oncol. 2003 Jul;14(7):1064-71.

Impact of medical and demographic factors on long-term quality of life and body image of breast cancer patients.

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  • 1I. Frauenklinik, Klinikum der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany.



The impact of various medical and demographic factors on the quality of life (QoL) of breast cancer patients has been discussed controversially. We investigated the influence of six different factors on long-term QoL and body image of women with primary breast cancer.


Two-hundred and seventy-four breast cancer patients were administered the QoL questionnaire following a mean interval of 4.2 years after primary diagnosis. All women had been primarily treated for stage I to III breast cancer without evidence of distant metastases. QoL was evaluated by using the QLQ-C30 questionnaire Version 2.0. Supplementary scales included body image, satisfaction with surgical treatment, cosmetic result and fear of recurrence. We analyzed the impact of tumor stage, surgical treatment, adjuvant radiotherapy, adjuvant cytotoxic therapy, age and length of follow-up period on the examined outcome parameters.


At the time of the follow-up examination, patients showed minor impairment of QoL (mean 67.8) and body image (mean 24.8), but more fear of recurrence (mean 60.7). None of the studied factors had a significant impact on overall QoL (P >0.05) according to the QLQ-C30 questionnaire. In contrast, with the exception of the factors 'cytotoxic therapy' and 'radiotherapy' all investigated variables influenced at least one of the additional psychological scales (P <0.05). The primary surgical treatment modality had the strongest impact and affected all four scales. Patients treated with breast conservation reported a more favorable body image, compared to those treated with mastectomy (17.2 versus 37.5, P <0.01), more satisfaction with surgical treatment (4.0 versus 10.7, P = 0.01), rated a better cosmetic result (75.5 versus 57.1, P <0.01), but presented more fear of recurrence (63.9 versus 55.3, P = 0.04).


Current QoL questionnaires do not sufficiently cover all relevant aspects of QoL, but might be complemented by breast cancer specific aspects such as body image and fear.

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