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Cancer survivors generally fare better than patients with chronic diseases – and what we can learn from it

Editor’s Commentary by Dr. Florian Scotté

Previous studies found an either equal or better health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of cancer survivors compared to patients with chronic disease. In the study Health-Related Quality of Life and Health Care Use in Cancer Survivors Compared With Patients With Chronic Diseases by Marianne Heins and colleagues, a total of 82% of patients returned their questionnaire (601 cancer survivors and 1052 patients with chronic diseases). It confirmed that cancer survivors had a better average HRQOL. The impact on physical and social domains was stronger; this was more pronounced in female survivors. There was no significant difference on the mental functioning subscale.

These results lead to several questions:

  • Does cancer still remain a chronic disease after a long time where general health status is concerned? It may be interesting to compare cohorts of cancer patients with people without disease but with the same characteristics.
  • It appears that mental health is the same for chronic and cancer patients. That should be highlighted in order to develop programs devoted to mental health.
  • Who should assume follow-up of cancer patients: GP, oncologist, surgeon, specialist?

This study is limited due to the absence of information on cancer stage or type. The next step to obtain better knowledge in order to develop survivorship programs is probably to promote trials comparing chronic diseases and cancer types.


Health-Related Quality of Life and Health Care Use in Cancer Survivors Compared With Patients With Chronic Diseases
Marianne J. Heins, Joke C. Korevaar, Petra E.P.C. Hopman et al. 
Cancer 2016; March 15: 962–970

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