BACKGROUND:: Studies have rarely compared health outcomes for patients with breast cancer at different treatment stages. OBJECTIVE:: The purpose of the study was to compare symptoms and quality of life among patients with breast carcinoma receiving target, chemotherapy, or combined therapy. METHODS:: A longitudinal study was carried out with 57 patients receiving chemotherapy, 30 receiving target therapy, and 34 receiving combined therapy. Data were collected before the start of treatment, at 4 weeks, and at 12 weeks following the start of treatment. Symptom severity and interference were assessed by the M. D. Anderson Symptom Inventory. The physical and mental components of quality of life (physical component score [PCS] and mental component score [MCS]) were assessed using SF-36. RESULTS:: There were no significant differences in symptom severity and interference for patients in the 3 therapy groups. The PCSs did not differ significantly according to the therapy group but did decrease significantly after each treatment. Patients receiving target therapy had significantly higher MCSs than did patients receiving chemotherapy, but the MCSs did not differ significantly before and after the treatment. Patients with higher symptom severity and interference had worse PCS and MCS. CONCLUSIONS:: Patients at all treatment groups had worse physical components quality of life after treatment as compared with before treatment. Patients receiving target therapy had better mental components of quality of life. The mental components of quality of life remained stable during treatment. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE:: Nurses should assess the patients' symptoms during treatment and provide timely intervention to optimize their quality of life.
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