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Black Survivors of Breast Cancer Score Higher in Spiritual Quality of Life

A new analysis of several thousand breast cancer survivors found differences in the overall quality of life between black and white women during both active treatment and up to two years later. The findings show that white women reported higher physical and health-related quality of life during active treatment. However, black women reported higher spiritual quality of life scores.

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“Black women generally had poorer physical and functional quality of life after the diagnosis of breast cancer, and socioeconomic and other factors explain some of these differences. However, for some domains, black women report better quality of life,” said study co-author Andrew Olshan, Ph.D., associate director of population sciences at University of North Carolina (UNC) Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The study, published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, drew upon surveys that assessed health-related quality of life issues for women aged 20 to 74 years who lived in North Carolina and had breast cancer.

The analysis is part of the third phase of the Carolina Breast Cancer Study, a study first launched in 1993 as part of an effort to better understand why black women have been found to disproportionately die from breast cancer.

Researchers used surveys to measure the physical, functional, emotional, and spiritual-related quality of life of more than 2,100 women at five months after their breast cancer diagnosis, and at 25 months, when women have typically stopped receiving active treatment and begin the survivorship phase.

For spiritual quality of life, the findings show that black women scored two points higher than white women at five months, when they were in the midst of active treatment, and two years after diagnosis. Specifically, black women scored an average of 41.4 points on spiritual quality of life, while white women scored an average of 39.3 at five months.

Two years after diagnosis, black women scored an average of 40.5 on spiritual quality of life, while white women had an average score of 38.5. Even after adjusting for socioeconomic factors, black women continued to score higher than white women for spiritual quality of life two years after diagnosis, the study reports.

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