Fall risk for breast cancer survivors
Women who survive breast cancer may be at an increased risk of experiencing a fall, the results of a new study indicate.
US researchers asked postmenopausal breast cancer survivors whether they had fallen in the past year and then tracked their falls over a six-month period. They found evidence that women who have survived the disease may fall more often than their peers.
"Our findings suggest that recently treated postmenopausal breast cancer survivors have higher rates of falling compared with population averages for community-dwelling older adults," explained Dr Kerri Winters-Stone of the Orgeon Health & Science University.
The study found that 58% of breast cancer survivors had experienced a fall in the previous year and almost half (47%) fell within six months of joining the study, a rate nearly double the 25% to 30% annual fall rate reported for community-dwelling adults aged over 65.
The researchers noted that only balance discriminated breast cancer survivors who fell from those who did not. The findings also suggest that the balance problems may have been related to changes in the vestibular system that were associated with chemotherapy treatment. The vestibular system is responsible for maintaining the body's balance, posture and orientation in space. It also regulates movement.
"Falls in breast cancer survivors are understudied and deserve more attention, particularly in light of the increase in fractures after breast cancer treatment and the relationship of falls to fractures.
"Our findings add to growing evidence that fall risk is increased in breast cancer survivors and that vestibular function may underpin associations between breast cancer treatment and falls," Dr Winters-Stone said.
Details of these findings are published in the journal, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
[Posted: Fri 04/03/2011]