• Vol. 39 No. 1, 43–48
  • 15 January 2010

Health-related Quality of Life in Children with Cancer Undergoing Treatment: A First Look at the Singapore Experience

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ABSTRACT

Introduction: With intensive chemotherapy and increased survival, quality of life in our paediatric population is of increasing concern. The aim of this study was to assess the children’s quality of life during the treatment process.

Materials and Methods: Patients between the ages of 7 and 18 years old who are undergoing cancer treatment in the Division of Paediatric Haematology-Oncology, Department of Paediatrics, National University Health System, were identified. The child self-reported his/her health-related quality of life (HRQOL) using the PedsQL Paediatric Quality of Life Inventory and Cancer module as a validated assessment tool.

Results: Thirty-two patients were enrolled over a 3-week period in November 2007. The median age was 11 years (range, 7 to 17). There was 1 non-responder (3%). Fourteen (45%) boys and 17 (55%) girls were interviewed. There were 8 (26%) and 23 (74%) patients with solid and haematologic malignancies, respectively. For the Cognitive Problem Dimension score, 86% of patients with haematologic malignancy and 50% of those with solid malignancy scored below the 75th percentile (82), [OR 0.72 (0.01-0.8), P = 0.03]. For the Physical Health Summary score, patients with solid malignancy scored worse, 25% below the 10th percentile, as compared to 4.3% of patients with haematologic malignancy. This is reflected by a worse Pain and Hurt Dimension score for patients with solid malignancy. For the Perceived Appearance Dimension score, patients with solid malignancy (75%) scored lower than the median score (67) compared to those with haematologic malignancy (44%).

Conclusions: The domains of HRQOL are affected to different extents for the patients with solid and those with haematologic malignancy. This is most likely to be due to the differences in treatment strategies and clinical course. Healthcare professionals should be aware of the effects of treatment on HRQOL and take practical steps to address these issues.


Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) has been progressively acknowledged as an essential health outcome measure in clinical trials and health services research and evaluation. HRQOL, compared to QOL, is a more defined conceptual term which encompasses only health-related aspects of life directly amenable to healthcare services and medical products.

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