Elderly Cancer Survivors at Disability Risk

Study finds women who beat the disease were less able to perform daily tasks

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TUESDAY, April 18, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Cancer can leaving lingering disability, concludes a new study that finds elderly female cancer survivors less able to perform daily tasks such as housework, preparing meals and climbing stairs.

"These findings support the need for interventions to prevent and reverse functional decline among elderly long-term cancer survivors," a team of University of Utah researchers wrote in the April 19 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The ability of elderly people to perform physical daily activities is an indicator of their overall health and well-being. The study's findings suggest that there's a need for programs to help elderly cancer survivors regain or maintain physical function.

Researchers examined data from nearly 26,000 women (median age 72) enrolled in the Iowa Women's Health Study who completed a questionnaire about their ability to perform daily functions.

The study found that five-year cancer survivors were more likely to report functional limitations than women who'd never had cancer, including inability to do heavy household work (43 percent vs. 31 percent); inability to walk a half mile (26 percent vs. 19 percent); and inability to walk up and down stairs (9 percent vs. 6 percent).

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about life after cancer treatment.

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, news release, April 18, 2006

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