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Cancer and other chronic conditions affect patients' lives differently during various phases of care

The impact of cancer and other chronic diseases on a patient's life may extend well beyond the initial year following diagnosis, suggests a new study. William F. Lawrence, M.D., of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and fellow researchers at the National Cancer Institute classified participants in the 1986-1994 National Health Interview Surveys into three phases of care: initial year following diagnosis, continuing, and last year of life. They compared health limitations and health-related quality of life (HRQL) for case patients with a chronic condition (breast, colorectal, prostate, or lung cancer; and arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, or hypertension) with matched controls without the condition by phase of care.

As expected, individuals diagnosed with cancer and other chronic conditions had more health limitations and worse quality of life than persons without chronic conditions. These limitations were most pronounced in the last year of life, but were also observed in the continuing phase of care, the period between the initial and last year phases of care. Within each phase of care, cases were more likely than controls to report more health limitations and fair or poor health. Differences were greatest between colorectal cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, and heart disease cases and their matched controls.

More details are in "Health limitations and quality of life associated with cancer and other chronic diseases by phase of care," by K. Robin Yabroff, Ph.D., M.B.A., Timothy S. McNeel, B.A., William R. Waldron, B.S., and others, in the July 2007 Medical Care 45(7), pp. 629-637.

Reprints (AHRQ Publication No. 07-0070) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

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