Washington, May 17 : Quality of life is an important indicator of survival among cancer patients, according to researchers.
Angelina Tan, Mayo Clinic cancer researcher and the lead author of the study suggests that quality of life is an independent factor in survival.
"Quality of life appears to affect the survival of cancer patients," said Tan.
"If physicians can identify patients who are not doing well, they will be able to intervene and, we hope, improve not only their patients' sense of well-being, but also their length of life," she added.
For the analysis, the researchers compared overall survival with responses from 3,704 patients to one question "On a scale of 0 to 10, how would you rate your quality of life?"
Patients had a variety of cancer types, and the question was asked during their participation in one of 24 different NCCTG clinical trials. The results were then converted to a 100-point scale.
After dividing the patients by the median score of 83, the findings showed 6.1 months increased survival time for those with scores greater than or equal to 83
The investigators also divided the group into those with scores of more than 50 and 50 or less, defining those in the 50 or less category as having clinically deficient quality of life.
The results were even more striking, it showed an increased survival of 7.5 months for the non-clinically deficient patients.
The investigators insisted that these numbers were independent of performance status, a traditionally used survival prediction method evaluating a patient's ambulatory status.
"Quality of life research is a priority at Mayo," said Jeff Sloan, Ph.D., a cancer researcher at Mayo and the study's primary investigator.
"While doctors know that a patient's quality of life is important, these studies show that measuring it is necessary and can predict how patients will do," he added.
"If quality of life deficits can be identified routinely in clinical practice, it will help patients," said Tan.
"Physicians can address the issues leading to a decrease in quality of life, and ideally these interventions will extend survival," she added.
The study was released May 15 as part of the 44th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).