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

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


Background: 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.

Methods: 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).

Results: 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.

Conclusions: 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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthritis / complications
  • Back Pain / complications
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiopathology
  • Lifting
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Quality of Life
  • Survivors*
  • Walking