Image description: image shows a person looking forward with symptoms of Long Covid overlaid. The title reads: Long Covid can impair quality of life more than advanced cancers, study says. Me Association logo (bottom right) University of London and University of Exeter logo (bottom left)

Long Covid can impair quality of life more than advanced cancers, study says

Some patients’ health-related life quality scores worse than those of people with stage 4 lung cancer

Rachel Hall, The Guardian


Many people with long Covid have a lower health-related quality of life than people with some advanced cancers, research suggests.

The study co-author Prof William Henley, of Exeter University medical school, said:

“Long Covid is an invisible condition, and many people are left trying to manage significant changes to how they can function.

“Shockingly, our research has revealed that long Covid can leave people with worse fatigue and quality of life than some cancers, yet the support and understanding is not at the same level. We urgently need more research to enable the development of evidence-based services to support people trying to manage this debilitating new condition.”

More than 90% of long Covid patients using the app were of working age (18-65) and 51% said they had been unable to work for at least one day in the previous month, with 20% unable to work at all. Nearly three-quarters (71%) of the patients were female.

Our results have found that long Covid can have a devastating effect on the lives of patients – with fatigue having the biggest impact on everything from social activities to work, chores and maintaining close relationships.

Dr Henry Goodfellow, a researcher at the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health who co-led the study

ME/CFS Research

In 2018, a research study ‘Functional Status and Well-Being in People with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Compared with People with Multiple Sclerosis and Healthy Controls' (Caroline C. Kingdon et al) found that people with ME/CFS have reduced functional ability and a poorer quality of life compared to people with Multiple Sclerosis.

The study used anonymised clinical data that was collected from people with M.E. and MS who have donated blood samples to the UK ME/CFS Biobank in London, and also assessed how their illnesses affect areas such as employment and income.

The study found that people with ME were ‘measurably more disabled’ than those with MS, work fewer hours, and have lower incomes.

ME Association Comment

Dr Charles Shepherd, Honorary Medical Adviser to the ME Association says:

This research helps to confirm what we already know from patient evidence about the severity and prognosis of Long Covid.

In particular, it confirms that a significant proportion of people with Long Covid:

— have a severe form of Long Covid with very poor quality of life – as is the case with ME/CFS

— are now developing what may well be a long-term disabling condition – as with ME/CFS

It is very disappointing to note that the researchers appear to be unaware of the important clinical and pathological overlaps between Long Covid and ME/CFS and the relevance that this has to the management of debilitating fatigue in people with Long Covid

Further reading on the Long Covid Research

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