Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Effect of Chemotherapy on Quality of Life of Older Women With Breast Cancer

By: Lauren Harrison, MS
Posted: Thursday, January 28, 2021

Chemotherapy negatively appears to affect quality-of-life outcomes among women older than age 70 with early breast cancer after 6 months of treatment, but this negative impact may resolve between 18 and 24 months after treatment. These findings were presented by Nicolò Matteo Luca Battisti, MD, of the Royal Marsden Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, and colleagues during the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Virtual Congress 2020 (Abstract 190P) and published in the Annals of Oncology.

“These [data] are important information to share with older patients contemplating chemotherapy to describe its short- and long-term impact on quality of life,” concluded the authors.

This multicenter, observational study recruited 2,811 women older than age 70 (median age, 76.5 years) diagnosed with early breast cancer. Patients were followed for up to 24 months, with personal and tumor characteristics, treatments, adverse events, and quality-of-life scores recorded at various time points. Quality of life was assessed using the EORTC-QLQ-C30, and scores were adjusted using baseline linear regression for high-risk patients. Patients underwent a full comprehensive geriatric assessment at baseline as well.

A total of 83.7% had estrogen receptor–positive disease, and 11.8% had HER2-positive disease. Approximately 54% of these patients were considered to be at high risk, and 24.7% of patients received chemotherapy.

Those who received chemotherapy had a lower global health score on the EORTC-QLQ-C30 at 6 months compared with those who did not undergo chemotherapy (61.7 vs. 69.5, P < .001). In addition, patients who were given chemotherapy had higher rates of fatigue (44.3% vs. 33.3%, P < .001) and appetite loss (26.2% vs. 12.7%, P < .001). Physical functioning, role functioning, cognitive functioning, social functioning, nausea, dyspnea, constipation, diarrhea, and financial problems were also impacted in the group receiving chemotherapy. These differences were no longer significant, however, 18 to 24 months after treatment.

Disclosure: The authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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