The favorable prognosis for early stage breast cancer survivors may be a reason for the minimal research regarding their quality of life. Prior research has observed more long-term weight gain among early stage survivors compared to cancer-free women of a similar age. It would be useful to study survivors’ perceptions and reported behaviors regarding diet and exercise to see if there is a correlation with previous studies.
A sample of 700 breast cancer survivors from Ohio and Michigan was randomly selected from the Northwest Ohio affiliate of the Susan G. Komen For the Cure mailing list and sent a survey for completion.
389 survivors completed the survey and among Stage 1 (50/197 = 25.4%) and Stage 2 survivors (24/105 = 22.9%), a small proportion had a positive correlation between self-reported dietary behaviors and their perceived benefits of eating fruits and vegetables. Similar correlations were observed between their self-reported exercise behaviors and their perceived benefits of exercise (Stage 1: 36/197 = 18.3%, Stage 2: 18/105 = 17.1%).
Regardless of stage, a small proportion of survivors’ self-reported dietary and exercise behaviors match their perceived benefits of diet and exercise. Factors such as access, motivation, and lack of co-morbidities among early stage survivors may prevent them from living healthier post-diagnosis. More thorough dietary and clinical measurements will provide greater certainty. Thus, innovative, sustainable programs must be accessible and provide motivation and social support from family, friends, and other survivors to truly improve quality of life.