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J Cancer Surviv. 2009 Jun;3(2):89-98. doi: 10.1007/s11764-009-0084-3. Epub 2009 May 13.

Comorbidities, therapy, and newly diagnosed conditions for women with early stage breast cancer.

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  • 1Applied Research Program, National Cancer Institute, 6130 Executive Blvd, MSC 7344, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.



To describe comorbidities in breast cancer patients at diagnosis and examine factors associated with self-reported comorbidities 30 months post-diagnosis.


Nine hundred forty one of 1,171 women had a medical record abstract and a follow-up survey in the Health, Eating, Activity and Lifestyle Study.


We compared our breast cancer cohort to a contemporaneous nationally-representative sample of age, race/ethnicity and education matched women without cancer (n = 865). Breast cancer patients did not have substantially more comorbidities than women without breast cancer. Women with a hospital record of congestive heart failure significantly less often received chemotherapy or radiation following breast conserving surgery. In multivariate analysis, women who received chemotherapy alone (OR = 3.2; 95% CI: 1.5-6.8), chemotherapy plus radiation (OR = 1.9; 95% CI: 1.02-3.7) or radiation plus tamoxifen (OR = 1.9; 95% CI: 1.1-3.2) were significantly more likely to report at least one new comorbid condition following breast cancer diagnosis than women who received no chemotherapy, tamoxifen or radiation. Overall, women who received adjuvant therapy were more likely to have new comorbidities.


Comorbidities were not substantially different in breast cancer patients than the non-cancer matched controls. Future research should focus on efforts to minimize comorbidities related to chemotherapy and other combination therapy.

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