TUESDAY, Oct. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Cancer survivors' quality of life can vary widely depending on the type of cancer, and millions of U.S. cancer survivors have a lower-than-normal quality of life, a new study finds.
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Researchers looked at more than 1,800 adult cancer survivors and more than 24,000 adults with no history of cancer and found that survivors of melanoma, breast and prostate cancers had a mental- and physical-health-related quality of life similar to those who never had cancer.
Survivors of cervical, blood and colorectal cancers, as well as survivors of cancers with a five-year survival rate of less than 25 percent (such as liver, lung and pancreatic cancers), however, had worse physical-health-related quality of life.
And survivors of cervical cancer and cancers with a low five-year survival rate also had worse mental-health-related quality of life, according to the study, which was published in the Oct. 30 issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
The investigators found that 25 percent of cancer survivors had lower than normal physical-health-related quality of life, and 10 percent had lower than normal mental-health-related quality of life. In all, about 3.3 million U.S. cancer survivors have a below-average physical quality of life, and nearly 1.4 million have a below-average mental quality of life, the researchers estimated.
"It is very concerning that there are a substantial number of cancer survivors who experience poor mental or physical health years after cancer," study author Kathryn Weaver, assistant professor at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., said in a journal news release.
"Our results will serve as a baseline so that in five to 10 years, we can assess whether current approaches to improving the health and well-being of cancer survivors are having a positive effect," she said. "I also hope our data will draw attention to the ongoing needs of cancer survivors -- particularly those with cervical, blood and less common cancers -- and to the importance of monitoring these individuals, even long after their cancer diagnosis."
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCES: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, news release, Oct. 30, 2012