Non-cancer life stressors contribute to impaired quality of life in ovarian cancer patients

Susan K. Lutgendorf, George M. Slavich, Koenraad Degeest, Michael Goodheart, David Bender, Premal H. Thaker, Frank Penedo, Bridget Zimmerman, Joseph Lucci, Luis Mendez, Katherine Collins, Anil K. Sood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objectives Diagnosis and treatment for a life threatening illness such as cancer are known to be psychologically impactful. However, little is known about the influence that non-cancer life stressors have on the quality of life (QOL) of ovarian cancer patients. The goal of the present study was to examine associations between non-cancer life stressors and QOL in 123 women with invasive epithelial ovarian cancer who were followed prospectively and longitudinally for one year. Methods Mixed models for repeated measures were used to examine the relationship between life stressors and QOL pre-surgery and one year later, while adjusting for age, cancer stage, depressive symptoms, anxiety, and chemotherapy status (at one year). Prospective associations between QOL pre-surgery and one-year QOL were also examined. Results Number and severity of life stressors were unrelated to QOL of participants before surgery. At one year, however, participants experiencing a greater number of life stressors reported poorer concurrent physical well-being (PWB) (p = 0.015), functional well-being (FWB) (p < 0.0001), social well-being (SWB) (p = 0.0003), and total QOL (p < 0.0001). Similar effects were found for life event severity. Finally, experiencing a greater number of life stressors pre-surgery predicted poorer overall QOL one year post-diagnosis (p < 0.0001). Conclusions Non-cancer life stressors can substantially impact long-term QOL of ovarian cancer patients, adjusting for medical variables such as chemotherapy and cancer stage, thus highlighting the importance of evaluating the stress burden of patients in ongoing cancer care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-673
Number of pages7
JournalGynecologic oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Life events
  • Life stress
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Quality of life


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