Purpose: Improvement of health-related quality of life in women with breast cancer after primary therapy by standardized inpatient rehabilitation.
Patients and methods: 129 women with breast cancer, 25-75 years old, and 42 healthy women were interviewed about their health-related quality of life by using the EORTC-QLQ-C30. This questionnaire assesses different aspects of quality of life as well as overall quality of life. Quality of life of breast cancer patients was assessed before and after inpatient rehabilitation, considering especially their age and the interval between diagnosis and rehabilitation.
Results: Compared with healthy women, the breast cancer patients had distinctly reduced values in the beginning of rehabilitation. By specific therapy, the overall quality of life as well as physical, emotional and role function could be improved significantly (p < 0.0001). Concerning cognitive and social function, there were also significant changes after rehabilitation (p < 0.0001), but only in 50% of the women an improvement could be shown. There was no evidence of correlation between quality of life after the end of primary therapy and the patients' age or the interval between diagnosis and rehabilitation.
Conclusion: Up to 3 years after the end of primary therapy, the health-related quality of life is noticeably reduced in breast cancer patients, without showing a tendency toward spontaneous improvement. By an intensive therapy with psychooncologic measures and activating physiotherapy, the quality of life can be improved in these patients. Whether this improvement leads to a long-term effect must be shown by a presently conducted randomized, prospective study.