The adverse effects of cancer treatment on health-related quality of life (HRQL) are the primary concern of elderly women diagnosed with breast cancer. The interplay of transient and progressive functional impairments caused by cancer therapies, alongside the accelerated physical declines associated with the normal aging process, are all negatively correlated to HRQL. This study compared the HRQL trajectories between cases and controls for ten years after diagnosis. The cancer group included 1467 women (age ≥ 65), diagnosed with primary breast cancer, registered in the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) cancer registry, and completed the Medicare Health Outcomes Survey (MHOS) before and after diagnosis. Controls were frequency-matched to cases with a 1:1 ratio on age and socio-economic variables. Participants reported their HRQL using SF-36/VR12 questionnaire, which was summarized into two summary scores (physical component summary (PCS) and mental component summary (MCS) and eight domain scores: physical functioning (PF), general health (GH), bodily pain (BP), role-limitation physical (RP), social functioning (SF), mental health (MH), role-limitation emotional (RE), and vitality (VT). Hierarchical Linear Modelling was utilized to assess the fixed effects of time, group, and the interaction between time and group (Time*Group) on HRQL trajectories. At the time of cancer diagnosis, cases fared worse than controls in all of the HRQL domains and summary scores. Group and time were majorly significant for PCS, PF, GH, BP, and RP, while only group was predominantly significant for mental domains (MCS, SF, MH, RE, VT). Time was also significant for SF and VT, while Time*Group was only significant for RE. Cases showed remarkable gains over controls across time in MCS, RE, MH, VT, SF, and PF. The need for intervention in improving physical health iii HRQL among older women is validated. On the other hand, the remarkable gains of cases over controls on mental domains of HRQL provoke future research to explore further patient perception on benefit-finding caused by the diagnosis and experience of cancer.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Lee, Eunkyung


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Undergraduate Studies


Interdisciplinary Studies



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date


Included in

Oncology Commons