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J Thorac Oncol. 2012 Jan;7(1):64-70. doi: 10.1097/JTO.0b013e3182397b3e.

Quality of life and symptom burden among long-term lung cancer survivors.

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Mayo Clinic, College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.



Information is limited regarding health-related quality of life (QOL) status of long-term (greater than 5 years) lung cancer survivors (LTLCS). Obtaining knowledge about their QOL changes over time is a critical step toward improving poor and maintaining good QOL. The primary aim of this study was to conduct a 7-year longitudinal study in survivors of primary lung cancer which identified factors associated with either decline or improvement in QOL over time.


Between 1997 and 2003, 447 LTLCS were identified and followed through 2007 using validated questionnaires; data on overall QOL and specific symptoms were at two periods: short-term (less than 3 years) and long-term postdiagnosis. The main analyses were of clinically significant changes (greater than 10%) and factors associated with overall QOL and symptom burden for each period and for changes over time.


Three hundred two (68%) underwent surgical resection only and 122 (27%) received surgical resection and radiation/chemotherapy. Recurrent or new lung malignancies were observed in 84 (19%) survivors. Significant decline or improvement in overall QOL over time were reported in 155 (35%) and 67 (15%) of 447 survivors, respectively. Among the 155 whose QOL declined, significantly worsened symptoms were fatigue (69%), pain (59%), dyspnea (58%), depressed appetite (49%), and coughing (42%). The symptom burden did not lessen among the 67 who reported improvement in overall QOL, suggesting that survivors had adapted to their compromised physical condition.


LTLCS suffered substantial symptom burden that significantly impaired their QOL, indicating a need for targeted interventions to alleviate their symptoms.

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