A systematic review of health-related quality of life in cutaneous melanoma
Melanoma can be considered an emerging chronic disease that may considerably affect patients’ lives. The authors systematically reviewed the available literature on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and melanoma. Of reviews and the selected studies, reference lists were hand-searched. The quality of the eligible studies was appraised based on 14 previously published criteria. Of the 158 abstracts, 44 articles were appraised, resulting in 13 selected studies written in English (published between 2001 and 2008). Most studies assessed patients from specialised centres with varying, but relatively advanced, disease stages. The most commonly used instruments were the SF-36 and EORTC QLQ-C30. Recently, a melanoma-specific HRQOL questionnaire [FACT-Melanoma (FACT-M)] was introduced for clinical trial purposes. It showed that approximately one-third of melanoma patients experienced considerable levels of distress, mostly at the time of diagnosis and following treatment. Systemic therapies affected HRQOL negatively in the short term, but to a lesser extent in the long term. Health status and patients’ psychological characteristics are associated with higher levels of HRQOL impairment. The authors found that the impact of melanoma on patients’ HRQOL is comparable to that of other cancers. Accurately assessing HRQOL impairment in melanoma patients is pivotal, as it may affect disease management, including therapy and additional counselling, future preventive behaviour and perhaps even prognosis.