Many breast cancer survivors 'suffer post-treatment issues'

10 April 2012

People who have undergone breast cancer treatment are prone to suffer at least one treatment-related complication in the years following their diagnosis.

This is according to a new study conducted at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, which revealed that 60 per cent of those who survived the life-threatening disease encountered a related issue sometime over the following six years.

As part of the research, the team monitored 287 Australian women with invasive, unilateral breast cancer for a median of 6.6 years.

Results found that 60 per cent experienced postsurgical complications, skin reactions to radiation therapy, upper-body symptoms and functional limitations, lymphedema, weight gain, and fatigue, while 30 per cent struggled with two of these problems.

Kathryn Schmitz, an associate professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology who led the study, commented: "Our work provides the first accounting of the true magnitude of the post-treatment problems suffered by breast cancer patients, and serves as a call to action for proper monitoring and rehabilitation services to care for them."

However, a separate study by Virginia Commonwealth University recently found that around half of breast cancer survivors died in later years due to an illness which had no relation to their fight against cancer.

Posted by Edward Bartel

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