Deleterious impact on quality of life

Although many cancers can be cured and the survival rate in some cancers is good, psychological, social, sexual, and physical dysfunction caused by both the diagnosis and treatment exerts a deleterious impact on the quality of most patients' lives. The range of possible treatments may have very similar outcomes in terms of response and survival but can produce very different effects on psychosocial well-being.

Monitoring quality of life is now more frequent in clinical trials but has failed to be used routinely in clinical assessment. Some groups are attempting to rectify this by introducing user-friendly touch screens that provide clinicians with a 'print out' of current and past scores, together with normal ranges which are adjusted for age and disease state.

Data derived from studies of quality of life can help the doctor and patient in management decisions and identify those patients who might profit from psychosocial interventions. Generic tests are available and valid and reliable tests exist for the measurement of quality of life in relation to most of the common cancer sites.

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