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Long-term prospective longitudinal evaluation of emotional distress and quality of life in cervical cancer patients who remained disease-free 2-years from diagnosis

Giovanna Mantegna1, Marco Petrillo2, Gilda Fuoco3, Laura Venditti1, Serena Terzano1, Luigi Pedone Anchora2, Giovanni Scambia2 and Gabriella Ferrandina2*

Author Affiliations

1 Psycho-Oncology Service, Catholic University, Campobasso, Italy

2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Gynecologic Oncology Unit, Catholic University Rome, Rome, Italy

3 Gynecologic Oncology Unit, Department of Oncology, Catholic University, Campobasso, Italy

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BMC Cancer 2013, 13:127  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-127

Published: 18 March 2013



A long-term prospective assessment of QoL in cervical cancer patients is still lacking. Here, we provide the first 2-years prospective, longitudinal study evaluating emotional distress and QoL in early stage (ECC) and locally advanced (LACC) cervical cancer patients who remained disease-free 2-years from diagnosis.


The questionnaires: Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Global Health Status items of EORTC QLQ-C30 (GHS), and EORTC QLQ-CX24 (CX24) have been administered by a dedicated team of psycho-oncologists, administered at baseline, and after 3, 6, 12 and 24 months from surgery The Generalized Linear Model for repeated measure was used to analyze modifications of QoL measures over time.


In both groups, an early reduction of the percentage of patients with anxiety levels ≥11 was observed at the 3-month evaluation (ECC: 25.7% at baseline Vs 14.7% after 3 months, p value=0.001; LACC: 22.2% at baseline Vs 15.4% after 3 months, p value=0.001). Despite this favorable trend, after 2 years from diagnosis, 11.9% of ECC and 15.6% of LACC patients still showed an anxiety score ≥11. No significant changes over time were observed in term of Depression levels. Focusing on QoL issues, mean GHS and Sexual Activity scores showed an improvement over time in both groups compared to baseline (GHS: 5.7% difference for ECC, p value=0.001, and 11.0% in LACC, p value=0.001; SXA: 13.9% difference for ECC, p value=0.001; and 6.1% in LACC, p value=0.008). On the other hand, Body Image mean scores were significantly impaired by chemoradiation administration in LACC patients, without long-term recovery (7.5% difference, p value=0.001). Finally, in both groups, lymphedema (LY) and menopausal symptoms (MS) showed an early worsening which persisted 2-year after surgery (LY: 19.5% difference for ECC, p value=0.014, and 27.3% in LACC, p value=0.001; MS: 14.4% difference for ECC, p value=0.004, and 16.0% in LACC, p value=0.002).


Despite a significant improvement over time, elevated anxiety levels are still detectable at 24 months after surgery in approximately 10% of cervical cancer patients. Much more attention should be focused on surgical/medical approaches able to minimize the negative impact of lymphedema and menopausal symptoms on QoL.

Quality of life; Emotional distress; Cervical cancer; Prospective study; Long-term evaluation