Breast cancer screening may impair quality of life of high-risk women
Health utility scores, an overall indicator of health-related quality of life (HRQoL), appear to be lower among participants of breast cancer screening programmes, though the difference may not be clinically significant, reports a new study.
The study included 2,378 women at high risk of breast cancer (HR-BC; mean age, 51.55±7.32 years) whose HRQoLs were measured using the three-level EuroQol-five-Dimensions (EQ-5D-3L). A total of 2,378 general population controls (mean age, 51.63±7.37 years) were also included.
The mean utility scores in the general population and HR-BC cohorts were 0.953 and 0.937, respectively. The between-group difference was statistically significant (p<0.001), though its magnitude of 0.016 fell short of the minimally important difference threshold value.
This difference was driven mainly by the anxiety/depression (18.8 percent vs 15.5 percent; p<0.001) and pain/discomfort (28.3 percent vs 22.1 percent; p<0.001) domains of the EQ-5D-3L. Specifically, these symptoms were more frequently reported by the HR-BC participants.
Multivariate regression analysis found that participants who were older at the time of the survey tended to have lower utility scores. For instance, relative to those who were younger than 45 years, women aged 50–54 (β, –0.018, 95 percent CI, –0.029 to –0.005; p=0.004), 55–59 (β, –0.032, –0.045 to –0.018; p<0.001) and 60–64 (β, –0.027, –0.041 to –0.012; p<0.001) years had lower utility scores.
“Although the observed HRQoL reduction was clinically trivial for HR-BC participants, BC screening may negatively impact emotional well-being such as increasing anxiety/depression,” said researchers, noting that psychological surveillance and counselling, where necessary, may be helpful in this population.