Comorbidities and their management in women with breast cancer—an Australian survey of breast cancer survivors

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Purpose: Breast cancer survivors experience significant burden from comorbid chronic conditions, but little is known about how well these conditions are managed. We conducted a national survey of Australian breast cancer survivors to examine the burden of chronic conditions, their impact and care alignment with the principles of chronic condition management. 

Methods: A study-specific survey incorporated questions about chronic conditions using the Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI), functional status using the Vulnerable Elders Survey (VES) and perceived quality of care for cancer and non-cancer conditions using the Patient Assessment of Care for Chronic Conditions Survey (PACIC). Members of Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) were invited via email to complete the survey either online or through direct mail. 

Results: The survey was sent to 2198 BCNA members and 177 responses were received (8.1%). Respondents were women aged 32–88 years (median 60.1 years). The majority were married (116; 67.7%) and had private insurance (137; 80.0%) and reported good to excellent health (119; 73.5%). Other health conditions were reported by 157 (88.7%), the most common being chronic pain (27.1%) and fatigue (22.0%). When asked about management of comorbidities or cancer, less than 20% were routinely asked about management goals, helped to set goals or asked about health habits. 

Conclusions: In this population of survivors with good health status and high rates of private insurance, comorbidities were common and their management, as well as management of breast cancer, was poorly aligned with chronic condition management principles.

Original languageEnglish
Article number212
Number of pages8
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number4
Early online date14 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • Breast cancer
  • Chronic disease
  • Comorbidity


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