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Gynecol Oncol. 2001 Dec;83(3):537-42.

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger": an ovarian cancer survivor survey.

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  • 1University Health Network, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 2N2, Canada.



This survey was designed to learn more about the physical health and quality of life of ovarian cancer survivors without known active disease and not on treatment.


Women with ovarian cancer without evidence of active disease, and not on treatment for at least 2 years, were recruited in Canada and the United States from university cancer clinics, community ovarian support groups, and a cancer survivor network newsletter and asked to complete an anonymous mail-back survey on their physical, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being.


Two-hundred (67.5%) women responded. Their mean age was 55.3 years, 72.5% had children, and they had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer a mean of 7.2 years previously. Eighty-nine percent regarded their health as good or excellent, but 53.5% had current pain or discomfort. They reported better mental health and equivalent energy levels to the general population. Although 57% reported that their sex lives had been negatively affected by cancer and its treatment, their overall sense of loss relating to sexual functioning was moderate to low. However, women under age 55 years reported a greater sense of loss about sexual function and fertility (P = 0.001). Most women reported that their ovarian cancer experience had changed their views on life and relationships in an overwhelmingly positive way.


Most ovarian cancer survivors, despite some symptoms, enjoyed good physical, psychological, social, and spiritual health. Specific concerns emerged about sexuality which should be addressed in patient education. Having survived a life-threatening illness, ovarian cancer survivors appear to have put other life difficulties into perspective, altered their priorities, and felt enriched by the experience. In general, these women showed impressive and inspiring resilience and reported good physical health and energy, excellent psychological health, and feelings of greater pleasure in life and personal relationships.

(c)2001 Elsevier Science.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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