CONTEXT AND OBJECTIVE: In metastatic breast cancer cases, the currently available therapeutic approaches provide minimal improvement in survival. As such, quality of life (QOL) becomes one of the main objectives of treatment. It is not known whether current treatments derived from trials improve QOL. The aim was to evaluate changes in QOL among metastatic breast cancer patients receiving treatment derived from trials. DESIGN AND SETTING: Prospective observational QOL survey in a tertiary cancer center. METHODS: To evaluate the influence of current treatments on patients' QOL, the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36 (SF-36) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) were applied on three occasions: before starting treatment and at the 6th and 12th weeks, to consecutive metastatic breast cancer patients over a one-year period. RESULTS: We found an improvement in QOL in the sample evaluated (n = 40), expressed by changes in the overall SF-36 score (p = 0.002) and the BDI (p = 0.004). Taken individually, the SF-36 components Pain, Social Functioning and Mental Health also improved significantly. Patients with worse initial performance status and secondary symptoms displayed greater improvement than those with better initial performance status and asymptomatic disease (p < 0.001). Patients who received more than one type of therapy showed larger gains than those given only one type (p = 0.038). CONCLUSIONS: In our environment, current metastatic breast cancer treatments can improve QOL, especially among symptomatic patients and those with low performance status.
Breast neoplasms; Neoplasm metastasis; Quality of life; Depression; Karnofsky performance status