The impact of health symptoms on health-related quality of life in early-stage breast cancer survivors

K. M. De Ligt*, M. Heins, J. Verloop, N. P. M. Ezendam, C. H. Smorenburg, J. C. Korevaar, S. Siesling

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Purpose In breast cancer patients, treatment-related health symptoms can occur that may affect their health-related quality of life (HRQoL). This study aimed to determine the impact of health symptoms on HRQoL in breast cancer patients up to 5 years after diagnosis. Methods Females surgically treated for early-stage breast cancer diagnosed between 2012 and 2016 (n = 876) were selected from the Netherlands Cancer Registry and invited for a survey about current health symptoms (‘Symptoms and Perceptions questionnaire’, SaP) and HRQoL (‘EORTC-QLQ-C30’). From the latter, functioning and global health were included. Mean scores were compared to norm population scores (T test). Multivariable linear regression analyses were performed to determine the association between health symptoms and global health and functioning. Results 404 patients (46%) responded. The median age was 62.2 ± 10.9 years. Respondents had significantly lower mean scores for role, cognitive, emotional, and social functioning than the general population. The most frequently reported health symptoms were musculoskeletal (including pain/complaints in lower/upper extremities/back/neck; 71%) and central nervous system symptoms (including concentration impairment, dizziness, neuralgia; 66%), and fatigue (63%). While most symptoms affected functioning, irrespective of time since diagnosis, especially fatigue, musculoskeletal, central nervous system, and gastrointestinal symptoms were significantly associated (p < 0.05) with lower functioning. Conclusions The majority of health symptoms that occur after breast cancer treatment were associated with lower functioning of patients in daily life. This paper urges healthcare providers to support breast cancer patients in alleviating or coping with health symptoms, even years after end of treatment, to improve their functioning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-711
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Aftercare
  • Breast neoplasms
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Late effects
  • QLQ-C30
  • Survivorship


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