Self-reported symptoms among cancer survivors in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Life and Longevity after Cancer (LILAC) cohort

Brittany M. Bernardo, Michael L. Pennell, Michelle J. Naughton, Nils Patrik Brodin, Marian L. Neuhouser, Rowan T. Chlebowski, Electra D. Paskett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: Due to cancer survivors living longer and morbidity associated with cancer treatments, it is necessary to understand symptoms experienced by cancer survivors. This study will analyze the symptom burden among a large cohort of survivors across multiple cancer sites. Methods: Data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Life and Longevity After Cancer (LILAC) study were used to examine the symptom burden of older cancer survivors. Poisson regression with robust standard errors was utilized to determine differences in symptoms by cancer site, treatment, and other covariates. Results: The most frequently reported symptoms among cancer survivors were fatigue (15.8%) and feeling sad or depressed (14.1%). Multivariable analyses indicated that more symptoms were reported among survivors who were younger (p = 0.002), divorced or separated (p = 0.03), and had a combination of public and private insurance (p = 0.01). Survivors who received chemotherapy (p < 0.001), radiation (p = 0.01), or hormone therapy (p = 0.02) reported more symptoms than survivors who did not receive these treatments. Survivors diagnosed with cancer < 5 years ago reported fewer symptoms than longer-term survivors, particularly those diagnosed > 10 years ago (p = 0.02). Conclusions: Results indicate that common physical and psychological symptoms are reported across cancer types. Cancer survivors diagnosed with cancer 10 or more years ago reported more symptoms than those recently diagnosed. This suggests that symptoms may remain a problem for some survivors decades after their diagnosis. Implications for Cancer Survivors: Future research should focus on implementing active surveillance of cancer survivors. Healthcare providers and those who care for cancer survivors should understand that the symptom burden associated with cancer may persist even decades following diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1427-1434
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cancer Survivorship
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • Cancer survivors
  • Late effects of cancer treatment
  • Symptoms
  • Women’s Health Initiative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)


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