Symptoms After Breast Cancer Treatment

Are They Influenced by Patient Characteristics?

Published In: Breast Cancer Research and treatment, v. 108, no. 2, Mar. 2008, p. 153-165

Posted on on January 01, 2008

by Jean Yoon, Jennifer Malin, May Lin Tao, Diana M. Tisnado, John L. Adams, Martha J. Timmer, Patricia A. Ganz, Katherine L. Kahn

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PURPOSE: This study examines the burden of symptoms by treatment type and patient characteristics in a population-based sample of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. METHODS: Using the Los Angeles County SEER Registry Rapid Case Ascertainment, we identified a cohort of breast cancer patients in 2000 and conducted telephone surveys in English and Spanish among participants. RESULTS: The authors completed interviews of 1,219 breast cancer patients and found almost half (46%) had at least one severe symptom (any of the following: nausea/vomiting, arm problems, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, difficulty sleeping) that interfered with her daily functioning or mood. Multi-variate analysis controlling for patient characteristics and treatment showed that older (OR = 0.90; P < 0.000), black (OR = 0.50; P < 0.000), Hispanic Spanish-speaking (OR = 0.37; P < 0.000), widowed or never married (OR = 0.68; P = 0.049), and working (OR = 0.72; P = 0.024) women were less likely to report severe symptoms than other women. Number of comorbid conditions (OR = 1.21; P < 0.000) and receipt of chemotherapy (OR = 1.48; P = 0.040) were positively associated with reporting symptoms. CONCLUSION: These findings estimate the prevalence of several mutable symptoms in breast cancer patients that can be addressed by appropriate treatments. Comorbidity is a significant predictor of symptoms, especially amongst those receiving chemotherapy. Variation in symptom reporting occurred by race/ethnicity and other sociodemographic characteristics, raising questions of different thresholds for reporting symptoms or truly fewer symptoms for some sociodemographic groups. Population-based estimates of the probability of symptoms in women with incident breast cancer can be used to provide patient education about potential outcomes following the treatment of breast cancer.

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