Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 54, Issue 1, pp 25–30

Risk factors for a decline in upper body function following treatment for early stage breast cancer

  • Rebecca A. Silliman
  • Marianne N. Prout
  • Terry Field
  • Susan C. Kalish
  • Theodore Colton


Purpose: To identify risk factors for a decline in upper body function following treatment for early stage breast cancer.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional observational study of 213 women ≥ 55 years of age newly diagnosed with early stage breast cancer interviewed three to five months following their definitive surgery. Patients were classified as having impaired upper body function related to their breast cancer treatment if: 1) they reported having no difficulty in performing any of three tasks requiring upper body function (pushing or pulling large object; lifting objects weighing more than 10 pounds; and reaching or extending arms above shoulder level) prior to treatment, but reported that any of these tasks were somewhat or very difficult in the four weeks prior to interview, or 2) they reported that performing any of the three tasks requiring upper body function was somewhat difficult prior to treatment, but reported that any of these tasks were very difficult in the four weeks prior to interview.

Results: In multiple logistic regression models, both the extent and type of primary tumor therapy and cardiopulmonary comorbidity were significantly associated with a decline in upper body function following breast cancer treatment.

Conclusion: Given the critical importance of upper body function in maintaining independent living, clinicians should consider the functional consequences of treatment when they discuss treatment options and post-operative care with older women who have early stage breast cancer.

breast cancer treatment older women upper body function 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca A. Silliman
    • 1
  • Marianne N. Prout
    • 1
  • Terry Field
    • 3
  • Susan C. Kalish
    • 1
  • Theodore Colton
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of MedicineBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsBoston University School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  3. 3.The Meyers Primary Care InstituteWorcesterUSA

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