Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is worse for older survivors of selected cancers, specifically survivors of multiple myeloma and pancreatic cancer, according to a study published online Nov. 4 in Cancer.

Erin E. Kent, Ph.D., from the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Md., and colleagues examined HRQOL in 16,095 survivors of selected cancers (including kidney, bladder, pancreatic, upper gastrointestinal, uterine, cervical, and thyroid cancers; cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx; melanoma; chronic leukemia; non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; and multiple myeloma) and in 1,224,549 individuals without a history of cancer.

Data were collected from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results cancer registry system linked to the Medicare Health Outcomes Survey.

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The authors calculated Scale scores, Physical Component Summary (PCS) and Mental Component Summary (MCS) scores, and a utility metric, adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics and chronic conditions.

The researchers identified notable deficits in physical health status. Comparable scores were seen for mental health, although patients with most types of cancer had worse scores for the Role-Emotion and Social Functioning scales than those without cancer.

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The lowest scores were reported by those with multiple myeloma and pancreatic malignancies, with their PCS/MCS scores 3 or more points lower than the scores seen in individuals without cancer.

“HRQOL surveillance efforts revealed poor health outcomes among many older adults and specifically among survivors of multiple myeloma and pancreatic cancer,” the authors write.


  1. Kent, Erin E., PhD, et al. “Health-related quality of life in older adult survivors of selected cancers: Data from the SEER-MHOS linkage.” Cancer. DOI: 10.1002/cncr.29119. November 4, 2014.