What happens to cancer survivors attending a structured cancer survivorship clinic? Symptoms, quality of life and lifestyle changes over the first year at the Sydney Cancer Survivorship Centre clinic



Sydney Cancer Survivorship Centre (SCSC) clinic provides multidisciplinary care after primary adjuvant treatment, with ~ 40% of attendees continuing follow-up with SCSC.


SCSC survivors completed measures of symptoms, quality-of-life and lifestyle factors at initial visit (T1), first follow-up (T2) and 1 year (T3). Analyses used mixed effect models, adjusted for age, sex and tumour type.


Data from 206 survivors (2013–2019) were included: 51% male; median age 63 years; tumour types colorectal 68%, breast 12%, upper gastrointestinal 12%, other 8%. Mean time from: T1 to T2, 3.6 months; T1 to T3, 11.8 months. Mean weight remained stable, but 45% (35/77) of overweight/obese survivors lost weight from T1 to T3. Moderately-intense aerobic exercise increased by 63 mins/week at T2, and 68 mins/week T3. Proportion meeting aerobic exercise guidelines increased from 20 to 41%. Resistance exercise increased by 26 mins/week at T2. Global quality-of-life was unchanged from T1 to T2, improving slightly by T3 (3.7-point increase), mainly in males. Mean distress scores were stable, but at T3 the proportion scoring 4+/10 had declined from 41 to 33%. At T3, improvements were seen in pain, fatigue and energy, but > 20% reported moderate–severe fatigue, pain or sleep disturbance. Proportion reporting 5+ moderate–severe symptoms declined from 35% at T1 to 26% at T3, remaining higher in women.


Survivors attending SCSC increased exercise by 3 months, and sustained it at 1 year. Most overweight/obese survivors avoided further weight gain. Survivors had relatively good quality-of-life, with improvement in many symptoms and lifestyle factors at 1 year.

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We would like to thank Anne Warby for her assistance with creating the database and Erika Jungfer, Anne Warby and Loraine Fong for their assistance with data entry.


Dr. Janette Vardy was supported by a Practitioner Fellowship from the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Australia.

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Vardy, J.L., Liew, A., Turner, J. et al. What happens to cancer survivors attending a structured cancer survivorship clinic? Symptoms, quality of life and lifestyle changes over the first year at the Sydney Cancer Survivorship Centre clinic. Support Care Cancer 29, 1337–1345 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-020-05614-7

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  • Oncology
  • Survivorship
  • Quality-of-life
  • Lifestyle behaviour
  • Symptoms
  • Exercise