Cancers (Basel). 2021 Apr 13;13(8):1854. doi: 10.3390/cancers13081854.
Background: Breast cancer (BC) survivors often suffer from late and long-term residual symptoms of the disease and its treatment. To date, long-term health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in breast cancer survivors has been seldom investigated and rarely compared to unaffected women (controls). Aim: This study aimed to investigate HRQoL over time using patient-reported status before diagnosis, during treatment, 1 year post-surgery, approx. 5 years and ≥10 years post-diagnosis. We also compared survivors’ HRQoL with controls’ still alive 10 years after recruitment. Methods: Data from the German population-based Mamma Carcinoma Risk Factor Investigation (MARIE) cohort of 1123 BC patients aged 50-74 years at diagnosis (2002-2005) and of 3453 matched controls were used for analysis. HRQoL was assessed with the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC QLQ-C30) questionnaire. All analyses were conducted for all ages as well as stratified according to three age groups (≤58 years, 59-64 years, ≥64 years). Differences in survivors’ general HRQoL before, during, and after therapy were investigated using a t-test/Wilcoxon signed-rank test. Changes in the HRQoL of survivors stratified by age from FU1 to FU2 were assessed via repeated analysis of variance. The HRQoL of survivors compared to the controls at FU2 was analyzed using an analysis of variance. Results: Over all ages, the general HRQoL in patients improved in the first 5 years post-diagnosis. In the subsequent years, HRQoL slightly deteriorated but was comparable to that of the controls. Younger survivors mostly improved their HRQoL from the 5 to 10-year follow-up but remained negatively affected for most functioning and symptom scales compared to controls. In older survivors, HRQoL hardly changed over time and detriments were less pronounced compared to controls, except for insomnia. Conclusions: Restrictions of HRQoL persist for more than 10 years and are most prominent among younger survivors. Researchers and clinicians should be aware of such potential deteriorations and age-dependent differences in order to optimize/adapt long-term cancer survivor care.