Prevalence of breast cancer treatment sequelae over 6 years of follow-up
Schmitz, Kathryn H., Speck, Rebecca M., Rye, Sheree A., DiSipio, Tracey, & Hayes, Sandra C. (2012) Prevalence of breast cancer treatment sequelae over 6 years of follow-up. Cancer, 118(S8), pp. 2217-2225.
Background: There is a need to better describe and understand the prevalence of breast cancer treatment-related adverse effects amenable to physical therapy and rehabilitative exercise. Prior studies have been limited to single issues and lacked long term follow-up. The Pulling Through Study provides data on prevalence of adverse effects in breast cancer survivors followed over six years.
Methods: A population-based sample of Australian women (n=287) diagnosed with invasive, unilateral breast cancer was followed for a median of 6.6 years and prospectively assessed for treatment-related complications at 6, 12, 18 months, and 6 years post-diagnosis. Assessments included post-surgical complications, skin or tissue reaction to radiation therapy, upper-body symptoms, lymphedema, 10% weight gain, fatigue, and upper-quadrant function. The proportion of women with positive indication for each complication and one or more complication was estimated using all available data at each time point. Women were only considered to have a specific complication if they reported the highest two levels of the Likert scale for self-reported issues.
Results: At six years post-diagnosis over 60% of women experienced one or more side effects amenable to rehabilitative intervention. The proportion of women experiencing 3 or more side effects decreased throughout follow-up, while the proportion experiencing no side effects remained stable around 40% from 12 months to six years. Weight gain was the only complication to increase in prevalence over time.
Conclusion: These data support the development of a multi-disciplinary prospective surveillance approach for the purposes of managing and treating adverse effects in breast cancer survivors.
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