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Cancer. 2008 Dec 1;113(11):3222-30. doi: 10.1002/cncr.23891.

Breast cancer survivors' health-related quality of life : racial differences and comparisons with noncancer controls.

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  • 1Division of Population Sciences, Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA.



Small samples with few minority women and/or the absence of comparisons to peers without cancer histories have limited previous research suggesting racial differences in breast cancer survivors' health-related quality of life (HRQoL). This study not only compared HRQoL of African American and white breast cancer survivors, but also compared the HRQoL of these women to that of same-race women with no cancer history.


Data from the Women's Health Initiative-Observational Study were used, including 5021 cancer survivors and 88,532 women without a history of cancer. Multivariate regression analyses estimated differences in breast cancer survivors' baseline HRQoL (RAND36), depressive symptoms (CES-D short-form), and sleep quality (WHIIRS).


African American breast cancer survivors reported worse physical functioning and general health compared with white survivors. Among African Americans, survivors reported worse role limitations due to physical health, pain, general health, and vitality than women without a history of cancer. This was most evident in those with more recent diagnoses. Most significant differences between groups were small in magnitude (Cohen d = .21-.36).


These results add to the increasing knowledge of cancer disparities by showing that African American women have small, but clinically meaningful, decrements in physical HRQoL compared with white survivors and with African American women without cancer. Because African American women also face diagnosis with higher grade tumors and higher breast cancer mortality, more research is needed to examine the physical and psychosocial experiences of African American breast cancer survivors to elucidate the mechanisms leading to poorer outcomes.

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