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Cancer Patients Have More Physical Limitations with Aging

New health care interventions required to address issue

THURSDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- Cancer patients experience a higher number of functional limitations as they age than those who have never been diagnosed with cancer, according to a report in the April issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Health care interventions are needed to help cancer patients regain or maintain physical activity as they age, the authors indicate.

Carol Sweeney, Ph.D., of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and colleagues analyzed questionnaire responses from 25,719 women, average age 72 years, enrolled in the Iowa Women's Health Study.

Forty-two percent of five-year cancer survivors reported an inability to do heavy household work compared to 31 percent of women who had never had cancer. Other functional limitations included an inability to walk a half mile (26 percent versus 19 percent) and inability to walk up and down stairs (9 percent versus 6 percent).

"These findings support the need for interventions to prevent and reverse functional decline among elderly long-term cancer survivors," the authors conclude. Julia H. Rowland, Ph.D., and Rosemary Yancik, Ph.D., both from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, write in an accompanying editorial that health care professionals already have the means necessary to research, develop and deliver interventions to ameliorate the long-term effects of cancer survivorship.

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