Gynaecological cancers are among the most prevalent cancers worldwide, with profound effects on the lives of women and their families. In this critical review, we explore the impacts of these cancers on quality of life (QOL) of women in Asian countries, and highlight areas for future inquiry.
A systematic search of the literature was conducted in six electronic databases: Web of Science, Scopus, Global Health (CAB Direct), PsycINFO (Ovid), EBMR (Ovid), and Medline (Ovid). Screening resulted in the inclusion of 53 relevant articles reporting on 48 studies.
Most studies were conducted in high and upper-middle income countries in East Asia and used quantitative approaches. Women had predominantly been diagnosed with cervical or ovarian cancer, and most had completed treatment. Four key interrelated domains emerged as most relevant in shaping QOL of women affected by gynaecological cancer: support, including identified needs, sources and forms; mental health, covering psychological distress associated with cancer, risk and protective factors, and coping strategies; sexual function and sexuality, focused on physiological, emotional and relational changes caused by gynaecological cancers and treatments, and the impacts of these on women’s identities; and physical health, covering the physical conditions associated with gynaecological cancers and their impacts on women’s daily activities.
QOL of women affected by gynaecological cancer is shaped by their mental and physical health, support, and changes in sexual function and sexuality. The limited number of studies from lower- and middle-income countries in South and Southeast Asia highlights important knowledge gaps requiring future research.