Quality of Life After Breast Cancer Treatment
Whether you are newly diagnosed, a long-term survivor or still in active treatment, breast cancer can affect how you feel inside and out.
You have to cope with the emotional strain of the diagnosis and the challenges of treatment, as well as the stresses of daily life.
Even though your diagnosis may be similar to another person’s, the way breast cancer impacts your life is unique.
How we’re helping
Last year, Susan G. Komen®’s community grants provided treatment assistance to more than 30,000 families impacted by breast cancer.
What is quality of life?
“Quality of life” describes your overall well-being, including:
- Mental and physical health
- Ability to perform daily roles
- Sexual function
- Pain, fatigue and other side effects of treatment or symptoms of the breast cancer
Non-health issues (such as financial concerns) are also part of quality of life.
Managing side effects and other issues that reduce your quality of life is an important part of breast cancer care.
Quality of life after treatment
Although most breast cancer survivors report a good quality of life, you may have some long-term side effects from treatment [11-12]. These may include hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms, fatigue, chronic breast pain, lymphedema and a loss of sex drive.
It can be hard to plan for or cope with side effects since they vary from person to person.
However, there are things you can do to ease some symptoms.
- Cognitive function (problems with memory and concentration)
- Fear of recurrence
- Financial and insurance issues
- Menopausal symptoms and other side effects of hormone therapy
- Relationships with spouses, partners, other family members and friends
- Sexuality and intimacy
- Social support
- Spirituality (prayer, meditation)
Improving quality of life in long-term survivors
Researchers are looking at ways breast cancer survivors can improve quality of life long-term. For example, exercise may improve mood, fatigue and social well-being [13-16].
Social support may also improve quality of life for breast cancer survivors [17-19].
Positive effects on quality of life
Although breast cancer often has a negative impact on quality of life, it may also trigger a positive change in your outlook .
You may have a stronger sense of spirituality or faith and a more hopeful view that increases pleasure in life .
Being a survivor puts you in a unique position to help others affected by breast cancer.
After treatment ends, there are many ways you can be a part of the breast cancer cause through research, community work or advocacy efforts.
Whether you enroll in a research study, serve as an advisor, or volunteer for an advocacy group, you can make a difference.
Learn more about getting involved in these efforts.