Breast Cancer Survivors Report High Quality of Life After Treatment

Even 15 years after lumpectomy, radiation, less than 5% complain of pain, survey finds

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SUNDAY, Sept. 21, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- Women who had a lumpectomy and radiation to combat breast cancer have an overall quality of life several years after treatment that's on par with most adult American women, a new report says.

"Treatments for breast cancer may decrease quality of life temporarily, but this is evidence that survivors, on average, will return to a normal quality of life," lead researcher Dr. Gary Freedman, an attending physician in the department of radiation oncology at Philadelphia's Fox Chase Cancer Center, said in a news release issued by the center.

The findings, based on a survey of 1,050 women with early-stage breast cancer who were treated with breast-conserving surgery and radiation with or without chemotherapy and hormone therapy, were expected to be presented Sunday at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology annual meeting, in Boston.

The brief survey, taken by the women at various points in their follow-up -- from three months to 15 years after treatment -- found the breast cancer survivors across all age groups said they had a very high quality of life and state of health comparable to the general U.S. female population.

Over the years, the survivors tended more often to say they experienced no or only some problems. For three questions dealing with anxiety, pain and the ability to do usual activities, the survivors tended to improve from reporting "some problems" to "no problems" over time. Less than 5 percent reported extreme problems with pain, usual activity or self care.

Freedman caution that "the survey is a general measure of quality of life and does not include information on all possible side effects, such as lymphedema, or if the women are happy with their breast appearance."

More information

The National Cancer Institute has more about breast cancer detection and diagnosis.

SOURCE: Fox Chase Cancer Center news release, Sept. 21, 2008

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