Study: Chemotherapy Related to Functional Decline in Women With Breast Cancer

SEPTEMBER 05, 2018
Jennifer Barrett, Associate Editor
Older women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer have a higher risk of experiencing a decline in their ability to function physically, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
The effect of chemotherapy on functional status can be critical for older adults, as declining function can inhibit the ability to live independently and perform daily activities. Additionally, previous studies have shown that older individuals with breast cancer who demonstrated a decline in physical function in the first 2 years after diagnosis had poorer 10-year survival.
For the study, the researchers aimed to detect common changes in patients’ ability to perform daily activities after receiving chemotherapy and to pinpoint why some women recovered their ability to function normally and others did not. To accomplish this, the researchers analyzed data from a previous study that included 635 women aged 65 years or older who had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

According to the findings, short-term decline in physical function appeared to be common among older adults treated with chemotherapy. Forty-two percent of patients reported a decrease in their ability to function from pre-chemotherapy to the end of treatment and 30% experienced a decline in their ability to function from before they started treatment to 12 months later.
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