Quality of Life in Malay and Chinese Women Newly Diagnosed with Breast Cancer in Kelantan, Malaysia


Background: Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death among women in Malaysia. Adiagnosis is very stressful for women, affecting all aspects of their being and quality of life. As such, there is littleinformation on quality of life of women with breast cancer across the different ethnic groups in Malaysia. Thepurpose of this study was to examine the quality of life in Malay and Chinese women newly diagnosed with breastcancer in Kelantan. Materials and
Methods: A descriptive study involved 58 Malays and 15 Chinese womennewly diagnosed with breast cancer prior to treatment. Quality of life was measured using the Malay versionof the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire (EORTCQLQ-C30) and its breast-specific module (QLQ-BR23). Socio-demographic and clinical data were also collected.All the data were analyzed using SPSS version 20.0.
Results: Most of the women were married with at least asecondary education and were in late stages of breast cancer. The Malay women had lower incomes (p=0.046)and more children (p=0.001) when compared to the Chinese women. Generally, both the Malay and Chinesewomen had good functioning quality-of-life scores [mean score range: 60.3-84.8 (Malays); 65.0-91.1 (Chinese)]and global quality of life [mean score 60.3, SD 22.2 (Malays); mean score 65.0, SD 26.6 (Chinese)]. The Malaywomen experienced more symptoms such as nausea and vomiting (p=0.002), dyspnoea (p=0.004), constipation(p<0.001) and breast-specific symptoms (p=0.041) when compared to the Chinese.
Conclusions: Quality of lifewas satisfactory in both Malays and Chinese women newly diagnosed with breast cancer in Kelantan. However,Malay women had a lower quality of life due to high general as well as breast-specific symptoms. This studyfinding underlined the importance of measuring quality of life in the newly diagnosed breast cancer patient,as it will provide a broader picture on how a cancer diagnosis impacts multi-ethnic patients. Once health careprofessionals understand this, they might then be able to determine how to best support and improve the qualityof life of these women during the difficult times of their disease and on-going cancer treatments.