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Medical comorbidities predict mortality in women with a history of early stage breast cancer

This analysis was conducted to determine whether comorbid medical conditions predict additional breast cancer events and all-cause mortality in women with a history of early stage breast cancer. Women (n = 2,542) participating in a randomized diet trial completed a self-administered questionnaire regarding whether they were currently being treated for a wide variety of diseases (cardiovascular, diabetes, gallbladder, gastrointestinal, arthritis, and osteoporosis) and conditions (high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol level). Height and weight were measured at baseline. Participants were followed for a median of 7.3 years (range 0.8-15.0). Cox regression analysis was performed to assess whether comorbidities predicted disease-free and overall survival; hazard ratio (HR) was the measure of association. Overall, there were 406 additional breast cancer events and 242 deaths. Participants with diabetes had over twofold the risk of additional breast cancer events (HR 2.1, 95% CI: 1.3, 3.4) and mortality (HR 2.5, 95% CI: 1.4, 4.4). The presence of multiple comorbidities did not statistically significantly predict additional breast cancer events. However, compared to no comorbidities, participants with 3 or more comorbidities had a HR of 2.1, 95% CI: 1.3, 3.3 for mortality. In conclusion, type 2 diabetes is associated with poor breast cancer prognosis. Given that 85% of deaths were caused by breast cancer, these findings suggest that multiple comorbidities may reduce the likelihood of surviving additional breast cancer events.

Authors: Patterson RE; Flatt SW; Saquib N; Rock CL; Caan BJ; Parker BA; Laughlin GA; Erickson K; Thomson CA; Bardwell WA; Hajek RA; Pierce JP

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2010 Aug;122(3):859-65. Epub 2010 Jan 14.

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