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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2006 Oct;15(10):1969-76.

Health status of long-term cancer survivors: results from an Australian population-based sample.

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  • 1Cancer Prevention Research Centre, University of Queensland, Level 3, Public Health Building, Herston Road, Herston, Queensland 4006, Australia.



Despite considerable knowledge about the effect of cancer during the early stages of treatment and survivorship, understanding the longer-term effect of cancer has only recently become a priority. This study investigated the health implications of longer-term cancer survivorship in an Australian, population-based sample.


Using the Australian National Health Survey, 968 longer-term cancer survivors were identified, along with 5,808 age- and sex-matched respondents without a history of cancer. Four measures of health effect were compared (quality of life, health status, days out of role, and mental well-being), using polytomous and logistic regression analyses controlling for other selected chronic conditions. These models were applied across both groups overall, across groups stratified by presence/absence of cancer, and other chronic conditions, as well as by tumor site.


Compared with matched respondents without cancer, longer-term cancer survivors reported significant decrements in health status, days out of role, and mental well-being (all P < 0.02), but not in quality of life. The likelihood of poor health outcomes (including quality of life) was much higher among survivors who also reported comorbid chronic conditions. Despite mixed results across tumor site, melanoma and prostate cancer survivors fared better across most outcomes.


Clear evidence of excess morbidity among Australian longer-term cancer survivors seems to be further exacerbated by the presence of comorbid chronic conditions. Consistent with recent U.S. studies, these results further support the importance of ongoing surveillance of the growing number of cancer survivors worldwide along with increased attention to interventions to improve long-term health outcomes.

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