A systematic review of quality of life instruments in long-term breast cancer survivors
Background: Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, representing 16% of all female cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, long-term cancer survival is defined as more than five years of survivorship since diagnosis, with approximately 2.5 million breast cancer survivors (BCS) in 2006. The long-term effects from breast cancer and its treatment have been shown to have positive and negative effects on both recovery and survivors' quality of life (QoL). The purpose of the study was to identify QoL instruments that have been validated in long-term BCS and to review the studies that have used the QoL instruments in this population.Methods: A systematic literature search was conducted from January 1990 to October 2010 using electronic databases. Instruments validated and used in BCS were included in the review. In addition, QoL studies in long-term BCS using the validated instruments were reviewed. The search was limited to studies in English language. Studies of BCS of less than five years after initial diagnosis, any clinical or review studies were excluded.Results: The review identified a total of 12 instruments (10 disease-specific, 2 condition-specific) validated in long-term BCS. According to the QoL framework proposed by Ferrell and colleagues, three instruments (Quality of Life-Cancer Survivors, Quality of Life in Adult Cancer Survivors Scale, and Quality of Life Index-Cancer Version) evaluated all four domains (physical, psychological, social, and spiritual) of QoL. A review of the psychometric evaluation showed that Quality of Life in Adult Cancer Survivors Scale has acceptable reliability, validity, and responsiveness in long-term BCS compared to other disease-specific instruments. The review also yielded 19 studies that used these QoL instruments. The study results indicated that age-group, ethnicity, and type of treatment influenced different aspects of QoL.Conclusions: There is a significant impact of breast cancer on QoL in long-term BCS. The review can help researchers and clinicians select the most appropriate instruments to assess the changes in QoL in BCS. © 2012 Chopra and Kamal; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.