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Outcomes - Quality of Life

Quality of Life (QOL) research examines the impact of cancer on patients, survivors, and their families. Cancer can greatly affect quality of life by changing an individual's functional status, psychological well-being, employment opportunities, sexual functioning, and social relationships. QOL research also examines coping strategies, social support systems, disease recurrence or progression, and secondary cancer diagnosis. The goal of this research is to understand the physical and psychosocial effects of cancer and to ultimately improve the quality of life of cancer patients and cancer survivors.

In addition to the studies RRSS investigators are conducting, described below, the Prostate Cancer Outcomes Study Web site describes the PCOS study funded as an RRSS study. RRSS:

  • examine QOL issues for breast, cervical, and prostate cancer survivors;
  • investigate ethnic differences in QOL among subpopulations of Asian/Pacific Islander cancer survivors;
  • examine the QOL of patients who develop subsequent primary cancers; and
  • examine employment decisions of cancer survivors and changes in employment status due to cancer.

Registries Funded to Conduct these Studies

Detroit (Metropolitan)
Los Angeles
New Mexico

Key Findings

Breast cancer may impose an economic hardship on women because it causes them to leave their jobs. However, for women who survive and remain working, this study failed to show a negative effect on hours worked associated with breast cancer.

In one study population, race was not statistically significantly associated with unfavorable breast cancer outcomes. However, low socioeconomic status was associated with late-stage breast cancer at diagnosis, type of treatment received, and death.

Future Use

Using pilot data from a QOL study, an RO1 award was funded, which examined in depth the association between breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent employment.

Self-administered instruments, which can be used relatively inexpensively in surveys, can assess patient preferences for outcomes associated with prostate cancer management.


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