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J Clin Oncol. 1998 Apr;16(4):1380-7.

Quality of life and preferences for treatment following systemic adjuvant therapy for early-stage breast cancer.

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School of Pharmacy and Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 27599-7360, USA.



To evaluate the quality of life (QOL) of breast cancer patients who survived 2 to 5 years following initiation of adjuvant cytotoxic and/or hormonal therapy and to characterize relationships between QOL and patient physical symptoms, sexual function, and preferences regarding adjuvant treatment.


Eighty-six patients who had completed systemic adjuvant therapy for early-stage breast cancer between 1988 and 1991 were surveyed by written questionnaire and telephone interview. Sociodemographic information was obtained for each patient, and patients were asked to complete the Functional Living Index-Cancer (FLIC), the Symptom Distress Scale (SDS), the Medical Outcomes Study (MOS) Short Form 36 (SF-36), a series of questions regarding sexual function, and a survey about preferences for adjuvant therapy in relation to possible benefit.


The mean FLIC score among all patients was 138.3 (+/- 12.2), which suggests a high level of QOL. The reported frequency of moderate to severe symptoms was generally low (ie, < 15%), with fatigue (31.4%), insomnia (23.3%), and local numbness at the site of surgery (22.1%) occurring with greatest frequency. Patients reported a wide range of sexual difficulties. Preference assessment showed that more than 65% of patients were willing to undergo 6 months of chemotherapy for a 5% increase in likelihood of cancer cure.


Self-rated QOL in breast cancer patients 2 to 5 years following adjuvant therapy was generally favorable. Less than one third of patients reported moderate to severe symptoms. Selected aspects of sexual function appeared to be compromised. The majority of patients indicated a willingness to accept 6 months of chemotherapy for small to modest potential benefit.

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