Absolute and Relative Handgrip Strength as Indicators of Self-Reported Physical Function and Quality of Life in Breast Cancer Survivors: The EFICAN Study

Cancers (Basel). 2021 Oct 21;13(21):5292. doi: 10.3390/cancers13215292.


Background: Although breast cancer (BC) is the most prevalent type of cancer in the world, its high survival rate implies that many people live long after the treatments and face their side effects. The physical function (PF) and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of people surviving BC decreases significantly, which makes important to identify markers that may be associated with a better health status and prognosis. Previous studies suggest that handgrip strength (HGS) and HGS relative to the body mass index (rHGS) are good indicators of PF and HRQoL in different populations. However, it is unknown whether this applies to BC survivors. This study aimed to evaluate the association of HGS and rHGS with PF and HRQoL in this population.

Methods: Sixty female BC survivors participated. Handgrip strength was assessed with a dynamometer. Arm volume was estimated and upper limb impairments, as well as cancer-related fatigue, depression, life satisfaction and HRQoL, were assessed using standardized questionnaires.

Results: Higher levels of HGS and rHGS were associated with higher levels of HRQoL, lower cancer-related fatigue, and fewer problems with the affected arm.

Conclusions: These results suggest that HGS may be a good indicator of self-reported PF and HRQoL in female BC survivors.

Keywords: cancer; depression; disability; life satisfaction; muscular strength; physical fitness.