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Cancer. 2009 Nov 15;115(22):5329-38. doi: 10.1002/cncr.24606.

An evaluation of lower-body functional limitations among long-term survivors of 11 different types of cancers.

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Division of Health Behavior Research, Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, MO 63108, USA.



The authors examined potential reasons (sociodemographics, psychologic distress, health behavior, chronic health conditions, access to medical care) for increased prevalence of lower-body functional limitations among long-term (> or =5 years) cancer survivors.


The authors used National Health Interview Survey data from 2005 through 2007, and defined lower-body functional limitation as reporting difficulty/inability to perform at least 1 of 5 activities (walking approximately one-quarter of a mile; walking up and down 10 steps without rest; standing for 2 hours; stooping, crouching, or kneeling; and lifting 10 lbs). Increased prevalence of lower-body functional limitations was compared between long-term survivors of each of 11 cancer types reported by > or =50 respondents (n = 2143) and persons without cancer history (controls; n = 72,618).


Among cancer survivors, 57.0% had a lower-body functional limitation versus 26.6% of controls. The unadjusted prevalence of lower-body functional limitations varied by cancer type, ranging from 44.9% (lymphoma survivors) to 88.8% (lung cancer survivors). Long-term lung (odds ratio [OR], 7.91), uterine (OR, 2.41), thyroid (OR, 2.27), cervical (OR, 1.76), ovarian (OR, 1.75), and breast (OR, 1.35) cancer survivors had increased odds of reporting a lower-body functional limitation than controls after adjusting for sociodemographic factors (all P < .05). Differences in the prevalence of arthritis and lower-back pain and in access to medical care explained differences in lower-body functional limitation prevalence between controls and long-term breast, cervical, ovarian, and uterine cancer survivors. Long-term bladder, colorectal, lymphoma, melanoma, and prostate cancer survivors were equally likely to report a lower-body functional limitation as controls.


Treatment of arthritis and lower-back pain and increasing access to medical care might help reduce the risk of lower-body functional limitations and improve quality of life among specific long-term cancer survivors.

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