Diversity in changes of HRQoL over a one-year period after radiotherapy in Norwegian breast cancer survivors – results of cluster analyses
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionQuality of Life Research. 2019, 28 (6), 1521-1530. 10.1007/s11136-019-02127-7
Purpose The diversity in long-term changes in health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among breast cancer (BC) survivors is poorly understood. The aim of this study was to identify clusters of trajectories (subgroups of patients with similar patterns of changes) of selected HRQoL domains over a 1-year period after radiotherapy (RT) in BC patients. Methods The group consisted of 250 BC patients referred for postoperative RT. Global quality of life (QoL), functions, and cancer-specific symptoms were assessed using the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) core Quality of Life Questionnaire (QLQ-C30) before starting RT, at completion of RT and 3, 6, and 12 months after RT. A hierarchical cluster analysis was used to identify possible trajectories of HRQoL domains. Results Three distinct types of clusters of trajectories were identified for all outcome variables: Type 1 clusters encompassing the rather time-stable high-global QoL cluster, high-functioning clusters, and low-symptom clusters (44–98% of patients), Type 2 clusters with medium levels of HRQoL domains (8–49%), Type 3 clusters encompassing low-global QoL, low-functioning, and high-symptoms clusters (2–51%). Conclusions Our results demonstrated a noticeable heterogeneity of changes in HRQoL domains after BC treatment. The findings support the importance of an accurate patient-reported HRQoL assessment as a routine element of BC survivors’ care. The pre-RT assessment of HRQoL alone allows to predict the course of HRQoL changes over the 1-year period after RT and the risk of “falling into” low functioning clusters.