Purpose: Breast cancer survivors may experience worse social, physical, and emotional function compared to the general population, although symptoms often improve over time. Data on problems in living can help to improve interventions and supportive care for breast cancer survivors. Symptoms such as fatigue, pain, difficulties with sleep, and sexual problems may have an adverse effect on the quality of life of breast cancer survivors.
Methods: We examined problems in living using data from a survey of 164 breast cancer survivors who had completed primary therapy for the disease.
Results: A total of 164 women completed the study questions (response rate 16.4%). The mean age of the women was 67 years. Among all participants, 66.7% were white, 29.5% were African-American, and the remainder were of other races. Almost all of the symptoms were more likely to be reported by participants who were < 55 years of age. Other important correlates of symptoms included non-white race, marital status, and having a household income of less than $50,000 per year.
Conclusion: The results of this study highlight the need for caregivers to emphasize screening for and discussion of symptoms, including sleep difficulties, fatigue, loss of strength, aches and pains, and muscle or joint stiffness. Of particular concern are younger survivors and those who are African American or low-income.