To examine the effect of non‐muscle‐invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) diagnosis and treatment on survivors’ quality of life (QoL).
Patients and Methods
Of the 5979 patients with NMIBC diagnosed between 2010 and 2014 in North Carolina, 2000 patients were randomly selected to be invited to enroll in this cross‐sectional study. Data were collected by postal mail survey. The European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire‐Core (QLQ‐C30) and the NMIBC‐specific module were included in the survey to measure QoL. Descriptive statistics, t‐tests, anova, and Pearson’s correlation were used to describe demographics and to assess how QoL varied by sex, cancer stage, time since diagnosis, and treatment.
A total of 398 survivors returned questionnaires (response rate: 23.6%). The mean QoL score for QLQ‐C30 (range 0–100, higher = better QoL in all domains but symptoms) for global health status was 73.6, function domain scores ranged from 83.9 to 86.5, and scores for the top five symptoms (insomnia, fatigue, dyspnoea, pain, and financial difficulties) ranged from 14.1 to 24.3. The lowest NMIBC‐specific QoL domain was sexual issues including sexual function, enjoyment, problems, and intimacy. Women had worse bowel problems, sexual function, and sexual enjoyment than men but better sexual intimacy and fewer concerns about contaminating their partner. Stage Ta had the highest global health status, followed by T1 and Tis. QoL did not vary by time since diagnosis except for sexual function. The cystectomy group (n = 21) had worse QoL in sexual function, discomfort with sexual intimacy, sexual enjoyment, and male sexual problems than the non‐cystectomy group (n = 336).
Survivors of NMIBC face a unique burden associated with their diagnosis and the often‐lifelong surveillance and treatment regimens. The finding has important implications for the design of tailored supportive care interventions to improve QoL for NMIBC survivors.