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Open Access Research

Does quality of life among breast cancer survivors one year after diagnosis differ depending on urban and non-urban residence? A comparative study

Tracey DiSipio1*, Sandi C Hayes1, Beth Newman1, Joanne Aitken2 and Monika Janda1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Public Health, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Victoria Park Road, Kelvin Grove, Queensland, 4059, Australia

2 Viertel Centre for Research in Cancer Control, Cancer Council Queensland, PO Box 201, Spring Hill, Queensland, 4004, Australia

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Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2010, 8:3  doi:10.1186/1477-7525-8-3

Published: 7 January 2010

Abstract

Background

This study examined the quality of life (QOL), measured by the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy (FACT) questionnaire, among urban (n = 277) and non-urban (n = 323) breast cancer survivors and women from the general population (n = 1140) in Queensland, Australia.

Methods

Population-based samples of breast cancer survivors aged < 75 years who were 12 months post-diagnosis and similarly-aged women from the general population were recruited between 2002 and 2007.

Results

Age-adjusted QOL among urban and non-urban breast cancer survivors was similar, although QOL related to breast cancer concerns was the weakest domain and was lower among non-urban survivors than their urban counterparts (36.8 versus 40.4, P < 0.01). Irrespective of residence, breast cancer survivors, on average, reported comparable scores on most QOL scales as their general population peers, although physical well-being was significantly lower among non-urban survivors (versus the general population, P < 0.01). Overall, around 20%-33% of survivors experienced lower QOL than peers without the disease. The odds of reporting QOL below normative levels were increased more than two-fold for those who experienced complications following surgery, reported upper-body problems, had higher perceived stress levels and/or a poor perception of handling stress (P < 0.01 for all).

Conclusions

Results can be used to identify subgroups of women at risk of low QOL and to inform components of tailored recovery interventions to optimize QOL for these women following cancer treatment.