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Trajectories of objectively measured physical function among older breast cancer survivors in comparison with cancer-free controls

Aging associated with progressive declines in physical function is well-known; however, it is unclear how breast cancer diagnosis affects the trajectories of physical function over a long period of time. The current study examined the trajectories in objective measures of physical function over 20 years for women with breast cancer and matched controls. 2712 community-dwelling women (452 breast cancer cases and 1:5 matched cancer-free controls) aged 65 years or older at baseline (1986-1988) within the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures were followed for 20 years. Objective physical function was assessed up to 9 times, including hand grip strength, timed chair stand, gait speed and quadriceps strength. Linear mixed models were used to model physical function changes in terms of secular time trend, group (cases or controls), period (pre-and post-diagnosis status), and their interaction terms. We observed all measures of physical function declined over time. While no differences in trends between cases and controls during the pre-diagnosis period were observed, after cancer diagnosis, grip strength and gait speed declined significantly faster in cases than controls. Quadriceps strength significantly decreased ~ 7 pounds shortly after breast cancer diagnosis, and then improved over time. Our study revealed that older breast cancer survivors relative to older women without cancer had significantly worse declines in grip strength and gait speed. Breast cancer survivors also had a sharp, short-term drop followed by gradual improvement over time in quadriceps strength. These findings suggest exercise training targeting muscle strength and mobility would be beneficial among older breast cancer survivors.

Authors: Luo, Juhua; Carter, Stephen J; Feliciano, Elizabeth M Cespedes; Hendryx, Michael

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2022 Jun;193(2):467-476. Epub 2022-03-26.

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