Study on the quality of life and health status among breast cancer survivors
Breast cancer is the most common malignant tumor in Germany. Rising survival rates after breast cancer put the issue of quality of life more strongly in the center of interest. Studies on quality of life after breast cancer identified the time elapsed since diagnosis and the intensity and extent of the therapy received as major influential factors for the quality of life of survivors. Besides the age of the female patient and the social situation seem to be important cofactors.In 2005, the German mammography screening program (MSP) was started as a systematic and quality assured program of early cancer detection. Screening mammography is expected to detect breast cancer earlier in the course of the disease (the so called lead time is approximately 3 to 5 years). Early stages of breast cancer are often treated less invasively than late stage cancers. On the other hand, one out of four breast cancer cases is detected within a 2-year interval after an inconspicuous screening mammography: these interval cancers are generally further advanced and have poorer prognostic characteristics. Breast cancer is generally detected at a later stage in women who do not participate in the MSP and who are diagnosed with the occurrence of first clinical symptoms; however, an unknown percentage of these women participate in the so called “opportunistic” screening, which underlies no structured quality assurance.The aim of this study is to evaluate whether there are differences between patients having had the diagnosis of breast cancer within the MSP as compared to women who participated in the MSP, but had an interval cancer, and non-participants of the MSP. Data on the first-line therapy, the type and the duration of the follow-up treatment, side effects and complications of the therapy will be collected and related with regard to their influence on quality of life, mood and general state of health.