Physical and mental health of breast cancer patients and survivors before and during successive SARS-CoV-2-infection waves

Claudia A. Bargon, Dieuwke R. Mink van der Molen, Marilot C. T. Batenburg, Lilianne E. van Stam, Iris E. van Dam, Inge O. Baas, Liesbeth M. Veenendaal, Wiesje Maarse, Maartje Sier, Ernst J. P. Schoenmaeckers, Josephina P. J. Burgmans, Rhodé M. Bijlsma, Femke van der Leij, Annemiek Doeksen, Danny A. Young-Afat, Helena M. Verkooijen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Purpose: During the first SARS-CoV-2-infection wave, a deterioration in emotional well-being and increased need for mental health care were observed among patients treated or being treated for breast cancer. In this follow-up study, we assessed patient-reported quality of life (QoL), physical functioning, and psychosocial well-being during the second SARS-CoV-2-infection wave in a large, representative cohort. Methods: This longitudinal cohort study was conducted within the prospective, multicenter UMBRELLA breast cancer cohort. To assess patient-reported QoL, physical functioning and psychosocial well-being, COVID-19-specific surveys were completed by patients during the first and second SARS-CoV-2-infection waves (April and November 2020, respectively). An identical survey was completed by a comparable reference population during the second SARS-CoV-2-infection waves. All surveys included the validated EORTC-QLQ-C30/BR23, HADS and “De Jong-Gierveld Loneliness” questionnaires. Pre-COVID-19 EORTC-QLQ-C30/BR23 and HADS outcomes were available from UMBRELLA. Response rates were 69.3% (n = 1106/1595) during the first SARS-CoV-2-infection wave and 50.9% (n = 822/1614) during the second wave. A total of 696 patients responded during both SARS-CoV-2-infection waves and were included in the analysis comparing patient-reported outcomes (PROs) during the second SARS-CoV-2-infection wave to PROs during the first wave. Moreover, PROs reported by all patients during the second SARS-CoV-2-infection wave (n = 822) were compared to PROs of a similar non-cancer reference population (n = 241) and to their pre-COVID-19 PROs. Results: Patient-reported QoL, physical functioning, and psychosocial well-being of patients treated or being treated for breast cancer remained stable or improved from the first to the second SARS-CoV-2-infection wave. The proportion of emotional loneliness reduced from 37.6 to 29.9% of patients. Compared to a similar non-cancer reference population, physical, emotional, and cognitive functioning, future perspectives and symptoms of dyspnea and insomnia were worse in patients treated or being treated for breast cancer during the second SARS-CoV-2-infection wave. PROs in the second wave were similar to pre-COVID-19 PROs. Conclusion: Although patients scored overall worse than individuals without breast cancer, QoL, physical functioning, and psychosocial well-being did not deteriorate between the first and second wave. During the second wave, PROs were similar to pre-COVID-19 values. Overall, current findings are cautiously reassuring for future mental health of patients treated or being treated for breast cancer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2375-2390
Number of pages16
JournalQuality of life research
Issue number8
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


  • Breast cancer
  • COVID-19
  • Corona virus
  • Longitudinal
  • Mental health
  • Pandemic
  • Patient-reported outcomes
  • Psychosocial well-being
  • SARS-CoV-2

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