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Maturitas. 2011 Dec;70(4):343-8. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2011.09.008. Epub 2011 Oct 19.

Improving quality of life after breast cancer: dealing with symptoms.

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Department of Medical Oncology, Portuguese Institute of Oncology Francisco Gentil, EPE-Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal.



Advances in breast cancer therapies have given rise to a growing number of patient survivors. Nevertheless, these women deal with long-term sequelae that impair their quality of life and that are lacking satisfactory assessment and expeditious management. Importantly, a new era is raising in the oncology field, namely, survivorship.


A search for English-language articles on Medline was undertaken covering the last 15 years, using the terms "cancer survivorship", "quality of life", "fatigue", "insomnia", "sleep disturbances", "depression", "cognitive dysfunction", "chemofog", "peripheral neuropathy", "fertility", "sexual behaviour", "menopause", "lymphedema", "physical activity" and "breast neoplasms". Selection was limited to systematic reviews and meta-analysis, but their reference list was examined to include papers of potential interest.


We found the most common symptoms affecting breast cancer survivors were fatigue, insomnia, depression, cognitive dysfunction, reproductive and menopausal symptoms and lymphoedema.


Some of these symptoms have even been the objective of randomised controlled trials, but consistent data are missing. The available interventions include pharmacological, behavioural therapies and complementary and alternative medicine approaches and will mostly depend on the type of symptom.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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