Chronic conditions and health status in older cancer survivors

Holly M. Holmes, Hoang Thanh Nguyen, Pratibha Nayak, Jeong H. Oh, Carmelita P. Escalante, Linda S. Elting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background With the aging population and improved cancer care, the number of cancer survivors is steadily increasing. Planning for their care requires an understanding of the impact of cancer and chronic conditions on quality of life. We sought to determine chronic conditions and health status in older cancer survivors compared to controls. Methods In this retrospective cross-sectional study, we used survey data from 18,133 cancer survivors and 94,407 controls age 65 and older who participated in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 2009 telephonic survey. Our main measures were chronic conditions (cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol, and arthritis) and poor health status (poor or fair self-rated health). Results Cancer survivors were older, more likely white, had higher education, and slightly more likely to have a healthcare provider and higher levels of emotional support. More survivors reported having 2 or more chronic conditions compared to controls (67.5% vs. 64.5%, respectively). Health status was lower for survivors, and was significantly different by racial/ethnic group. In a multivariable model for health status, having 2 or more chronic conditions was more strongly associated with poorer health status than cancer survivorship. Conclusions Cancer survivors had slightly higher numbers of chronic conditions and poorer health status than controls. However, chronic conditions were more strongly associated with poor health status than cancer. Monitoring for recurrence and second cancers is important in cancer survivors, but chronic conditions also need to be given priority due to their substantial impact on health status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)374-378
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Internal Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Cancer survivorship
  • Comorbidity
  • Elderly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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