Disability, psychological distress and quality of life in relation to cancer diagnosis and cancer type: population-based Australian study of 22,505 cancer survivors and 244,000 people without cancer

Grace Joshy, Joanne Thandrayen, Bogda Koczwara, Phyllis Butow, Rebekah Laidsaar-Powell, Nicole Rankin, Karen Canfell, John Stubbs, Paul Grogan, Louise Bailey, Amelia Yazidjoglou, Emily Banks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Improved survival means that cancer is increasingly becoming a chronic disease. Understanding and improving functional outcomes are critical to optimising survivorship. We quantified physical and mental health-related outcomes in people with versus without cancer, according to cancer type. Methods: Questionnaire data from an Australian population-based cohort study (45 and Up Study (n = 267,153)) were linked to cancer registration data to ascertain cancer diagnoses up to enrolment. Modified Poisson regression estimated age- and sex-adjusted prevalence ratios (PRs) for adverse person-centred outcomes—severe physical functional limitations (disability), moderate/high psychological distress and fair/poor quality of life (QoL)—in participants with versus without cancer, for 13 cancer types. Results: Compared to participants without cancer (n = 244,000), cancer survivors (n = 22,505) had greater disability (20.6% versus 12.6%, respectively, PR = 1.28, 95%CI = (1.25–1.32)), psychological (22.2% versus 23.5%, 1.05 (1.02–1.08)) and poor/fair QoL (15.2% versus 10.2%; 1.28 (1.24–1.32)). The outcomes varied by cancer type, being worse for multiple myeloma (PRs versus participants without cancer for disability 3.10, 2.56–3.77; distress 1.53, 1.20–1.96; poor/fair QoL 2.40, 1.87–3.07), lung cancer (disability 2.81, 2.50–3.15; distress 1.67, 1.46–1.92; poor/fair QoL 2.53, 2.21–2.91) and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (disability 1.56, 1.37–1.78; distress 1.20, 1.05–1.36; poor/fair QoL 1.66, 1.44–1.92) and closer to those in people without cancer for breast cancer (disability 1.23, 1.16–1.32; distress 0.95, 0.90–1.01; poor/fair QoL 1.15, 1.05–1.25), prostate cancer (disability 1.11, 1.04–1.19; distress 1.09, 1.02–1.15; poor/fair QoL 1.15, 1.08–1.23) and melanoma (disability 1.02, 0.94–1.10; distress 0.96, 0.89–1.03; poor/fair QoL 0.92, 0.83–1.01). Outcomes were worse with recent diagnosis and treatment and advanced stage. Physical disability in cancer survivors was greater in all population subgroups examined and was a major contributor to adverse distress and QoL outcomes. Conclusions: Physical disability, distress and reduced QoL are common after cancer and vary according to cancer type suggesting priority areas for research, and care and support.

Original languageEnglish
Article number372
Number of pages15
JournalBMC Medicine
Volume18
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • Australian
  • Cancer survivor
  • Cohort
  • Disability
  • Psychological distress
  • Quality of life
  • Survivorship

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