Breast cancer in younger women: reproductive and late health effects of treatment.

Research paper by Patricia A PA Ganz, Gail A GA Greendale, Laura L Petersen, Barbara B Kahn, Julienne E JE Bower

Indexed on: 15 Nov '03Published on: 15 Nov '03Published in: Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology


In 1997, we initiated a cohort study to evaluate quality of life (QOL) and reproductive health outcomes in younger female breast cancer survivors.Using listings from two tumor registries, we recruited women with stage 0, I, or II breast cancer who were 50 years or younger at diagnosis and were also disease-free survivors for 2 to 10 years. A mailed survey questionnaire assessed medical and demographic factors, health-related QOL, mood, outlook on life, and reproductive health outcomes.We recruited 577 women, who ranged in age from 30 to 61.6 years (mean, 49.5 years) and were surveyed approximately 6 years after diagnosis. Almost three fourths had received some form of adjuvant therapy. Amenorrhea occurred frequently as a result of treatment in women > or = 40 years at diagnosis, and treatment-associated menopause was associated with poorer health perceptions. Across the cohort, physical functioning was quite good, but the youngest women experienced poorer mental health (P =.0002) and less vitality (energy; P =.03). Multiple regression analyses predicting QOL demonstrated better outcomes in African-American women, married or partnered women, and women with better emotional and physical functioning, whereas women who reported greater vulnerability had poorer QOL.Overall QOL in younger women who survive breast cancer is good, but there is evidence of increased emotional disruption, especially among the youngest women. Factors that may contribute to poorer health perceptions and QOL include experiencing a menopausal transition as part of therapy, and feeling more vulnerable after cancer.