Journal of Cancer Survivorship

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 712–720 | Cite as

Comorbid conditions and health-related quality of life in long-term cancer survivors—associations with demographic and medical characteristics

  • Heide GötzeEmail author
  • Sabine Taubenheim
  • Andreas Dietz
  • Florian Lordick
  • Anja Mehnert



Our study provides a detailed overview of comorbid conditions and health-related quality of life of long-term cancer survivors and analyses the impact of demographic, disease- and treatment-related characteristics.


We present data obtained from 1000 survivors across mixed tumour entities 5 and 10 years after cancer diagnosis in a cross-sectional study. We analyse the prevalence of physical symptoms and health conditions via self-report and health-related quality of life using the EORTC QLQ-C30 in comparison to gender- and age-matched reference values of the general population.


Cancer survivors reported on average 5 comorbidities; 23% had 7 or more comorbid conditions. Cancer survivors reported higher physical symptom burden than the population—especially fatigue, insomnia and pain. Type and prevalence of long-term and late effects differ with disease-related factors (e.g. cancer type, treatment) and characteristics of the patient. Cancer survivors also reported lower quality of life than the population, especially in everyday activities, social life, psychological well-being and financial difficulties. There was a positive association between high quality of life and a low level of morbidity.


The specific knowledge about physical long-term consequences for the individual types of cancer could raise awareness in health care professionals for high-risk patients and help to develop adequate prevention and survivorship-programs.

Implications for Cancer survivors

Limitations in the mental health area underlines the importance of psycho-oncological survivorship-care-plans, which go beyond the time of rehabilitation. Special attention should be given to the financial situation of patients in long-term follow-up care.


Cancer survivorship Quality of life Comorbidities Long-term effects 


Compliance with ethical standards

The research was approved by the local ethics committees. Prior to participation, all patients provided written informed consent. The study received research ethics committee approval by the University of Leipzig (Az. 070-14-10032014).

Conflict of interest

The funding source was not involved in any stage of the research process. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

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Online resource 3 (DOCX 19 kb)
11764_2018_708_MOESM4_ESM.docx (15 kb)
Online Resource 4 (DOCX 15 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical Psychology and Medical SociologyUniversity Medical Center LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Local Clinical Cancer Registry LeipzigUniversity Medical Center LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  3. 3.Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck SurgeryUniversity Medical Center LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  4. 4.University Cancer Center Leipzig (UCCL)University Medical Center LeipzigLeipzigGermany

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