A new study published in CANCER describes the factors that contribute to improving the health-associated quality of life in older adults with most cancers, in order to help identify survivors who are most vulnerable and at risk for poor health outcomes. The study emphasizes the significance of managing persistent symptoms and comorbid conditions, and promotion of the healthy lifestyles.

Last year, among 15 million Americans living with cancer, 62% were of aged ≤65 years, and the proportion is increasing. So the researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, tracked 1475 adults of aged ≤65 years, they found that many of the participants were not on cancer therapy and not diagnosed in the near past. The survey explored factors in the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual context that could affect the quality of life.

The study found that the physical and mental domains of quality of life were likely affected by factors across different components. Physically active elders had a better physical quality of life. The most important factors contributed worse physical quality of life with more severe symptoms of pain, fatigue, and disturbed sleep.

Even important social domain factors related to support needs such as needing assistance when fatigued. Other mental contributors included the need for emotional support and having financial hardship events.

"Quality of life studies tend to focus on one cancer at the time, on the period during treatment, and on specific cancer drugs or treatments; however, as people live longer after a cancer diagnosis, it is important to understand the contribution of other factors to quality of life regardless of cancer type or treatment," said Dr. Pisu. "Cancer type and treatment received were not among the most important factors affecting the quality of life in our group of survivors."

The researchers anticipated that economic hardship would not be related to the mental component of quality of life. However, financial hardship has been found to be less contributed for older adults, Dr. Pisu added.

The study findings have potential implications for the care of older cancer survivors. The care should be concerning the comprehensive promotion of health, including adequate management of persistent symptoms and comorbidities, and encouraging healthy lifestyles. Furthermore, the care should consider the significance of those survivor’s social domains and the emotional assistance as well as financial support.