Quality of life is the key to the survival of cancer patients and, in fact, outweighs other classic predictors of survival, a new study has found.
According to Nicos Nicolaou, a physician and lead author of the study, “In the past, we have considered the stage of disease or tumour size along with other empirical data to predict how long a patient will survive, but now we know quality of life is a critical factor in determining survival.”
The study included patients with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer enrolled in a treatment trial.
In addition to quality of life surveys, factors used to predict overall survival, included stage of disease, gender, age, race, marital status, type of tumour, tumour location in the lung, blood oxygen level, and type of treatment.
‘Our study shows that what matters most is what patients themselves are telling us about their quality of life,’ said Benjamin Movsas, a co-author of the study.
Of the 239 patients analysed, 91 percent completed a pre-treatment quality of life questionnaire. Patients with a quality of life score less than the median (66.7) had a 69 percent higher rate of death than patients with a quality of life score greater than 66.7.
Married patients or those with a partner had the highest quality of life score.
‘We found a significantly lower quality of life score for single, divorced and widowed patients which deserves further study,’ Nicolaou said.
‘These findings underscore the importance of helping our patients improve the quality of life where we can in order to help them live longer better.’
‘Quality of life measures should be incorporated into treatment decision making and clinical trials,’ Movsas concluded.