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Qual Life Res. 2012 Mar;21(2):225-36. doi: 10.1007/s11136-011-9947-y. Epub 2011 Jun 10.

Health-related quality of life in breast cancer survivors of different sexual orientations.

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Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, 801 Massachusetts Avenue, Crosstown Center, Boston, MA 02118, USA.



Sexual minority women, e.g., lesbians and bisexuals, are an underserved population but not much is known about their quality of life (QOL) after a breast cancer diagnosis. For this reason, this study examines the physical and mental QOL and its association with sexual orientation in a cohort of long-term nonrecurring breast cancer survivors.


Survivors were recruited from a cancer registry and additional sexual minority survivors through convenience methods. Data were collected via telephone survey from all 438 survivors, who were disease free and diagnosed with nonmetastatic breast cancer an average of 5 years earlier. Sexual orientation was the primary independent factor, and QOL, measured with the SF-12, was the outcome. Demographic and clinical factors were considered as correlates.


Sexual orientation was not significantly associated with survivors' physical or mental QOL. The majority of survivors reported good physical and mental QOL. The demographic and clinical factors explained about one-third of the variation in survivors' physical QOL, but did not account for most of survivors' mental QOL.


The lack of an association between sexual orientation and QOL suggests that if there is a link, it does not relate directly to clinical and demographic factors. Future studies need to identify areas of similarity and difference between sexual minority and heterosexual survivors and mechanisms to explain the similarity in QOL.

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