Quality of Life Parallels Length of Lung Cancer Survival

Quality of Life Parallels Length of Lung Cancer Survival

A new study indicates The way lung cancer patients feel around the time they're diagnosed may be related to how long they survive -- even after taking into account objective measures of the disease.


Researchers found that newly-diagnosed lung cancer patients who rated their quality of life higher generally lived longer with the disease: typically surviving nearly six years, versus less than two years among patients who'd reported a poor quality of life.
And objective measures -- like age, the stage and aggressiveness of the cancer and other health conditions -- did not fully explain the connection.
Quality of life is a "complex construct" that includes a person's feelings of physical, mental and emotional well-being, said Jeff A. Sloan, a professor of oncology and biostatistics at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who led the new study.

Blood work and other lab tests are one way of seeing how a patient is doing, according to Sloan. But, he said, doctors have long been aware that two patients can look the same as far as objective cancer-related measures go, yet fare differently.
A number of studies have now shown that quality of life seems to affect the long-term picture for cancer patients, Sloan said.
So doctors at Mayo have begun routinely assessing cancer patients' quality of life, and some other cancer centers are starting to do the same, he added.
The current study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, included 2,442 patients treated for lung cancer at Mayo over 11 years.
Around the time of their diagnoses, patients rated their overall quality of life on a standard scale of zero to 100. The researchers found that 21 percent had a "deficit" in quality of life -- or a score of 50 or lower.
Those patients survived for substantially less time: 1.6 years, on average, versus 5.6 years in the group with a higher quality of life around the time of diagnosis.
There were other differences between the two groups, too. Patients with a poorer quality of life were more likely to be men, current smokers and have more-advanced cancer, for example.
But even when Sloan's team factored in those differences, quality of life was still a predictor of survival time. Overall, the death rate during the study period was 55 percent higher among patients who gave low ratings to their quality of life.
So what can be done when cancer patients have quality-of-life issues? That depends on what seems to be underlying the problem, according to Sloan.


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