Comorbidities and perceived health status in persons with history of cancer in the USA

Mavis Obeng-Kusi, Janette L. Vardy, Melanie L. Bell, Briana M. Choi, David R. Axon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Comorbidities can further challenge prognosis and general wellbeing of cancer patients. This study aimed to assess the association between comorbidities and perceived health status (PHS) of US persons with cancer. Methods: This cross-sectional study used 2019 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) data and included individuals who were alive throughout the year, aged 18 to 84 years, and had diagnosis for cancer. Using adjusted logistic regression models, we estimated the association of comorbidities (no, few [1/2], and more [3 or more] comorbidities) with PHS. Analyses accounted for the complex design of MEPS. Results: The dataset included 28,512 participants, 1739 of which were eligible for the study. Of these, 11.16% (95% CI 9.64, 12.59%); 41.73% (95% CI 39.21, 43.96%); and 47.10% (95% CI 44.86, 49.73%) reported having no, few, and more comorbidities, respectively. While breast (N = 356), prostate (N = 276), and melanoma (N = 273) were the most common cancers, hypertension (88.3%), hypercholesterolemia (49.5%), and arthritis (48%) were the most prevalent comorbidities. Adjusted logistic regression showed that, compared with those with no comorbidities, persons with few and more comorbidities had 1.58 (95% CI = 0.79, 3.15) and 2.27 (95% CI = 1.19, 4.32) times greater odds of poor PHS. Younger or male patients, those with less formal education, low-income, pain, functional limitation, or poor perception of mental health were more likely to regard their health as poor. Conclusion: About 88% of persons with history of cancer in the USA aged 18–84 years reported at least one comorbidity. Having more comorbidities, along with several other variables, was associated with poor PHS. Comorbidities management must be given special consideration to improve the prognosis and general wellbeing of persons with cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number16
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Cancer
  • Comorbidities
  • Oncology
  • Perceived health status
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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