(HealthDay News) – A considerable proportion of long-term survivors of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) have persistently low or worsening quality of life (QoL), which is predicted by age, comorbidity, and the perception of cancer’s impact, according to research published online Dec. 3 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Sophia K. Smith, PhD, of the Duke Cancer Institute in Durham, NC, and colleagues surveyed 566 NHL survivors (52% women; 87% white) at a mean of 15.3 years post-diagnosis, who had participated in a study at 10.4 years post-diagnosis. Changes in QoL were examined, and clinical, demographic, or psychosocial predictors for poor outcomes were assessed.

The researchers found that 32% of participants reported persistently high or improved QoL, but 42% reported persistently low or worsening QoL. Improvements in physical health were reported by participants who received only biologic systemic therapy. Independent predictors of poor QoL included older age, more comorbidity, and an increasing negative and decreasing positive perception of the impact of cancer. Correlates of a negative perception of cancer’s impact included lymphoma symptom burden, less social support, and having received a transplant.

“Moderate to severe symptom burden, limited social support, or having received a [transplant] should alert the clinician to potential need for supportive services,” the authors write. “Perceptions of cancer’s impact are associated with QoL cross-sectionally and longitudinally; modifying these perceptions may thus provide a strategy for improving QoL.”

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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