Physical Limitations Impact Long-Term Breast Cancer Survival
Posted Oct 13 2010 7:21am
Breast cancer treatments and surgery can have a variety of unwanted side effects. One of these side effects is an impairment in physical function. This can result in the inability of a breast cancer survivor to conduct normal daily activities. While it is clear that breast cancer therapies can adversely effect one's physical function, it was uncertain how these physical limitations affected the long-term survival of breast cancer patients.
A new breast cancer research study explored the relationship between physical function in breast cancer patients after initial breast cancer treatment and long-term survival. The breast cancer researchers studied 2,202 breast cancer patients who provided information on endurance, strength, muscle range of motion, and dexterity. The breast cancer survivors in this study were followed for an average of 9 years. The results of this analysis indicated that
Nearly 40% of the breast cancer survivors had at least one physical limitation.
Functional limitations were more common in older and obese breast cancer survivors.
Having a physical limitation as the result of breast cancer treatment increased the breast cancer patients overall risk of death due to any cause by about 40%
The risk of death due to non-breast cancer causes was increased by more than 2.5 times in breast cancer survivors who suffered with physical limitations.
Unexpectedly, having a functional limitation did not increase the risk of dying due specifically to breast cancer.
These are sobering results, but ones that can help in the future development of strategies to improve the survival of breast cancer patients suffering treatment-related physical limitations. According to an accompanying editorial , which is free to download, breast cancer survivors can sometimes get lost in the system once their breast cancer treatments are completed. This current breast cancer research study makes it clear that appropriate care of breast cancer survivors, particularly in regards to physical limitations, is an important part of improving long-term survival. Previous studies have reported that exercise can improve breast cancer treatment-related physical limitations , improve cardiovascular endurance , and improve breast cancer survival . Thus it is clear that an exercise program should be an integral part of an overall plan to improve long-term survival of breast cancer patients.