Kassondra S. Grzankowski, MD; Michael Carney, MD


Cancer Control. 2011;18(1):52-58. 

In This Article


Quality of life is composed of broad concepts that affect global life satisfaction. HRQOL has been defined for matters related to health and illness. Multiple validated and reliable questionnaires are available for assessment of HRQOL, including generic health status instruments, generic illness instruments, disease-specific instruments, and combined instruments such as the FACT-O and the PROMIS-Ca.

HRQOL assessment plays an important role in medical care, and this is especially significant in ovarian cancer treatment as 80% of newly diagnosed patients present with advanced disease and require extensive surgical and chemotherapeutic treatment regimens that are associated with significant morbidity. HRQOL data can be utilized in clinical trials, with an endpoint of improvement of HRQOL. The data can also be used as a tool in standardizing the efficacy and tolerability of treatment. In addition, information from the HRQOL assessments may help identify the need for changes in treatment regimens that may have otherwise been overlooked and can aid in the deciding when to pursue need for further treatment vs palliative care.

Prolongation of life, without regard for the quality of that life, is not a universally desired goal. When considering aggressive, life-prolonging treatments and end-of-life decisions, it is necessary to consider each individual's assessment of what makes life worth living. Overall HRQOL assessment can help patients with ovarian cancer maintain autonomy when faced with the difficult decision between aggressive, life-prolonging treatments vs end-of-life decisions. As medical, pharmaceutical, and surgical techniques continue to prolong life much longer than our predecessors would have imagined, it is now the role of today's physicians to encompass quality of life into their ever-changing role as health care providers and patient advocates. To reach such positive outcomes, the use of an interdisciplinary treatment team approach is vital to each patient's needs. To optimize treatment decisions for patients with ovarian cancer, clinicians need to be familiar with differences between regimens in terms of toxicity, dosage, and administration, and emerging data from HRQOL assessments.


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