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Study reveals lasting quality of life inequities in breast cancer patients

When it comes to health, inequalities can be seen at every level for women with breast cancer: prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, and survival. But what about their quality of life?

A team from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG), Inserm, and Gustave Roussy has tracked nearly 6,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer over a 2-year period, showing that socioeconomic status has a major and lasting impact on their quality of life, despite identical medical treatment. These results from the UNICANCER-sponsored CANTO study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, call for socioeconomic factors to be taken into greater account in support programs for women with breast cancer.

Social and economic determinants (such as income and educational levels) impact how individuals cope with illness and are one of the main causes of inequalities in health. In cancer care, socioeconomic inequalities are present throughout the continuum of care, from prevention to diagnosis, treatment, and survival.

Nearly 6,000 women monitored over two years 

The 5,900 women who took part in this study were treated in France for early breast cancer, a common form of cancer from which more than 80% of women recover. ''Many of the women received heavy treatment in the first year following their diagnosis – including surgery followed by chemotherapy-; followed by endocrine therapy in the second year. We followed them over two years to capture changes in quality of life over the medium term,'' explains Gwenn Menvielle, research director at Inserm and at Gustave Roussy, who led this research.

The research team examined five areas of quality of life -; general tiredness, psychological state, sexual health, and side effects -; according to a number of socioeconomic indicators: level of education, household income, and perceived financial situation. Combining these elements produces a score where 0 indicates no inequalities.

Inequalities are increasing rapidly 

At diagnosis, the inequalities in quality of life between the two socioeconomic extremes are notable, with a score of 6,7. The score increases to 11 during treatment, then remains at 10 two years after diagnosis, a higher score than at that time. ''If we expected a certain degree of inequality at the start of the disease, the fact that these inequalities increase rapidly and persist for so long is a surprise,'' mentions José Sandoval. ''The impact on quality of life is much more pronounced for women with fewer resources, irrespective of the biological characteristics of their cancer, their age or the treatment they have received.''

Read the whole article here.

  Quelle: news-medical.net (25.06.2024 - LW)
 
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