When will I feel normal again? Trajectories and predictors of persistent symptoms and poor wellbeing after primary chemotherapy for ovarian cancer

Vanessa L. Beesley, Kate Webber, Christina M. Nagle, Anna DeFazio, Andreas Obermair, Merran Williams, Michael Friedlander, Penelope M. Webb, on behalf of the OPAL Study Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: After treatment for ovarian cancer, women want to know when they will feel ‘normal’ again. Our objective was to document the proportions of women with high levels of physical and emotional symptoms at the end of treatment, determine if/when they return to normal and identify groups at risk of persistent symptoms/delayed recovery. Methods: Women in the OPAL (Ovarian cancer Prognosis And Lifestyle) study who received ≥3 cycles of first-line chemotherapy and completed patient-reported outcome (PRO) questionnaires on or < 6 weeks after completing chemotherapy (baseline) were included in this analysis (n = 527). PRO measures included anxiety, depression, insomnia, fatigue and wellbeing (quality-of-life) at baseline, 3, 6, 9 and 18 months post-baseline. Group-based trajectory models identified clusters of individuals who followed similar patterns. Logistic and Cox regression identified factors associated with persistent symptoms and delayed recovery, respectively. Results: At baseline, 57% of women reported moderate-to-severe fatigue, 22% anxiety, 20% depression, 14% clinical insomnia and 45% had quality-of-life scores significantly lower than the general population. Between 50 and 75% of individual PRO scores normalised within six months, with the exception of emotional wellbeing (42%), but approximately two-in-five women still had at least one persistently poor PRO at 18 months. Women with more severe symptoms at baseline, who were younger, or had a history of anxiety/depression were more likely to have persistent symptoms or delayed recovery. Conclusions: Two-in-five women might never fully return to ‘normal’ after completing primary treatment for ovarian cancer. Those with risk factors should be triaged for early supportive interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-186
Number of pages8
JournalGynecologic Oncology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Quality of life

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