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Five years later: a cross-sectional comparison of breast cancer survivors with healthy women.
Although a number of studies have focused on initial adjustment to cancer, less is known about long-term survival issues. The present study compared breast cancer survivors with age-matched healthy controls (N=328) in terms of more subtle indicators of psychological well-being as well as their general quality of life 5 yrs post-diagnosis. Results indicated survivors generally perceive the world as less controllable and more random compared to healthy women. However, survivors perceive the same control over their daily lives as healthy women. Beliefs about personal control are most strongly associated with quality of life in both groups of women. Survivors also indicated that they derived some benefits from their experience with cancer, but these benefits had only a modest impact on quality of life. However, the belief that the experience had lasting harmful effects was associated with poor quality of life for survivors. In both groups, a continued search for meaning in life had a negative impact on quality of life. The strongest and most consistent correlate of quality of life for both survivors and healthy women was having a sense of purpose in life.