PURPOSE: This study was designed to explore the quality of life (QOL) for breast cancer patients who survived after operation by using the World Health Organization Quality of Life (WHOQOL) instrument-Korean version. METHODS: Fifty patients with breast cancer were recruited after their operations, and an informed consent was obtained from each of them. Hospital staff members served as the controls. The 100 item-WHOQOL instrument included questions on the physical, psychological, social, independence, environmental and spiritual domains, and it was employed for testing the all subjects. RESULTS: The physical, psychological, independence and social domains were shown to have a worsened quality of life for patients with breast cancer who survive after their operations. Quality of life in the physical and social domains were perceived as worse by patients having advanced stage tumor, with mastectomy. Patients with mastectomy who survived their cancer felt a worse quality of life in the psychological domain. The quality of life scores for patients having advanced stage tumor with mastectomy, during the early postoperative period (< or =2 years) was lower for the independence domain. Patients at middle postoperative period (2~5years) felt a better quality of life in spiritual domain. CONCLUSION: Not only is the objective medical success important to female breast cancer survivors, but the individual subjective perception of their condition is also important. The psychological status of these women needs to be considered when managing patients with breast cancer after their surgical operation. In this context, the WHOQOL reflects a measurement of a multi-dimensional state of well- being, and it could be a useful tool across a variety of cultural and value systems in the world.