Breast Cancer Leads to More Falls

by Rathi Manohar on Mar 7 2011 1:47 PM

 Breast Cancer Leads to More Falls
An increased risk for falls and broken bones may be faced by breast cancer survivors, who have gone through chemotherapy and endocrine therapy, implies a new study.
The study, to be published soon in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, involved 59 postmenopausal breast cancer survivors, found that 58 per cent of the patients had suffered a fall in the year before the study was done, and 47 per cent has a fall during the period of the study which lasted for six months.

According to Kerri M. Winters-Stone, an associate professor and associate scientist at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) School of Nursing, and her colleagues in the study, these figures are very high compared to the just 25 per cent to 30 per cent of falls suffered by adults over 65 years old every year.

The reason behind this difference is the change in the vestibular system that affects balance and spatial orientation, brought about by chemotherapy, in breast cancer survivors. Women who took longer to identify differences in contrast in a visual contrast-sensitivity test were also more likely suffer from falls. The possibility exists that their visual processing speed had changed following cancer treatment and might be causing this increased risk, feel researchers. Also, a combination of early menopause due to breast cancer treatment and common drugs used to treat breast cancer could impact the strength of the bones.

Winters-Stone insists that more research needs to be done into this problem that deserves more attention, especially as there has been an increase in fractures after breast cancer treatment. Right now, the only option that survivors face with this increased risk of falling is home care or assisted living.