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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1998 May 6;90(9):656-67.

Quality of life in long-term survivors of adult-onset cancers.

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Cancer Research Center of Hawaii, University of Hawaii, Honolulu 96813, USA.


The long-term survival of cancer patients has risen dramatically during the last few decades, yet little is known about the quality of life experienced by these survivors. This paper reviews research on the quality of life in long-term cancer survivors to identify quality-of-life concerns in this population, to provide a critical evaluation of the literature, and to suggest areas for future research. Searches of computerized literature databases were conducted to identify all studies of quality of life in cancer survivors that were published in English language journals during the period from January 1, 1980, through February 12, 1998, and that were based on responses from individuals who have survived 5 or more years after the diagnosis of adult-onset cancers. Thirty-four papers were identified. Most studies utilized self-report questionnaires to measure quality of life. Although methodologies and cancer patient populations varied greatly, most studies showed that many survivors continue to experience negative effects of cancer and/or treatment on their daily lives well beyond the completion of therapy. Sexual functioning and/or satisfaction and psychological functioning were found to be concerns for many survivors. Several reports documented positive coping strategies and enhanced quality of life in long-term cancer survivors, supporting the need to measure positive aspects of quality of life as well as problems in this population. Study designs that more accurately measure quality of life among survivors of cancer by adjusting for the effects of aging and long-term therapy and the impact of second cancers should be utilized. Additional data are needed to understand the needs of long-term survivors, especially of those in groups underrepresented in published quality-of-life studies, and to determine what kinds of support survivors want.

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