Clinical Study

Assessment of late treatment-related symptoms using patient-reported outcomes and various factors affecting return to work in survivors of breast cancer

20 Apr 2023
Rajeshwari Rai, Monica Malik, Deepthi Valiyaveettil, Syed Fayaz Ahmed, Mohammed Basalatullah

Introduction: Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. Survival in these patients has increased because of early diagnosis and multimodality treatment methods. Return to premorbid functional status after treatment is essential for rehabilitation and good quality of life. Many patients suffer from late treatment-related symptoms which affect their return to premorbid status. Various health-related and work-related variables also affect the return to premorbid status.

Materials and methods: This is a cross-sectional study in which 98 patients with breast carcinoma who received curative treatment were included 6–12 months post-radiotherapy completion. Patients were interviewed to assess their type of work and hours of work prior to diagnosis and at the time of the study. The extent to which they are able to return to their pre-diagnosis level of work was noted and various factors that were hindering them were documented. Treatment-related symptoms were assessed using selected questions from NCI PRO-CTCAE (version 1.0) questionnaire.

Results: The median age of diagnosis of patients included in the study was 49–50 years. The most common symptoms experienced by patients were fatigue (55%), pain (34%) and oedema (27%). 57% of patients were employed before diagnosis, of which only 20% were able to return to their employment post-treatment. All patients were involved in household work prior to diagnosis and 93% were able to get back to their routine household work, with 20% of patients requiring frequent work breaks. About 40% of patients reported social stigma as a factor that hindered them from returning to work.

Conclusion: Most patients return to household work post-treatment. Fatigue, pain and social stigma were the most common barriers to return to employment. Patient-reported outcomes and functional assessments can enable better survivorship care.

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