Health-Related QoL Poor Among Myeloma, Pancreatic Cancer Survivors

November 11, 2014
Leah Lawrence
Leah Lawrence

Survivors of multiple myeloma and pancreatic cancer may have some of the poorest physical health-related quality of life outcomes, according to a new study.

Although researched less, survivors of cancers that occurred at less common sites may also have poor health-related quality of life (HRQOL) outcomes, particularly among survivors of multiple myeloma and pancreatic cancer.

Erin E. Kent, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute, and colleagues used data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) national cancer registry system and the Medicare Health Outcomes Survey (MHOS) to research HRQOL in more than 16,000 cancer survivors.

“Most studies of HRQOL among cancer patients and survivors have been limited to breast cancer and, to a lesser extent, prostate, colorectal, and lung cancer, and even fewer studies have examined HRQOL among older long-term survivors,” Kent and colleagues wrote in Cancer. “However, much less is known about the HRQOL experiences of individuals with one of the less common malignancies.”

Therefore, in this study, the researchers looked at patients with kidney cancer, bladder cancer, pancreatic cancer, upper gastrointestinal cancer, cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx, uterine cancer, cervical cancer, thyroid cancer, melanoma, chronic leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. Outcomes of the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey and the Veterans RAND 12-Item Health Survey were examined and compared to individuals without cancer.

Overall, cancer survivors had lower average Physical Component Scores (PCS) than did individuals without cancer. However, Mental Component Scores (MCS) did not greatly differ between the two groups. A utility metric (Short Form 6D/Veterans RAND 6D), which adjusted for chronic conditions and sociodemographic characteristics, was also calculated.

The lowest PCS and MCS scores reported were among survivors of multiple myeloma (31.3 and 48.8) and pancreatic cancer (35.3 and 48). Survivors of multiple myeloma also had the lowest mean Short Form 6D/Veterans RAND 6D score of 0.63, which was 0.10 points different from individuals without cancer.

Bodily pain, Role-Physical, and Vitality were all prominent concerns among survivors of pancreatic cancer and myeloma, with these two cancer type survivors reporting the lowest mean scores for Role-Physical.

“The disease burden, as evidenced by the current study and a few other published reports of multiple myeloma and pancreatic cancer, suggests the need for research to identify factors that contribute to inferior outcomes among respondents with these malignancies,” the researchers wrote.

In addition, the researchers noted that further research was needed in patients with even less common cancers, such as liver cancer, who were not well-represented in the SEER-MHOS databases.