Study shows lingering side effects with breast cancer treatment
  • Mon, 05/07/2012 - 3:13pm

A University of Pennsylvania research study revealed that 60 percent of breast cancer patients suffered at least one side effect up to six years after completing treatment and 30 percent experienced two or more complications.

Chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, and hormone therapy have contributed to 2.6 million survivors in the U.S., but they can cause post-surgical complications like skin irritations, weight gain, fatigue, and lymphedema, or swelling, when lymph nodes become blocked with fluid. The study, published online April 6, suggested ways to prevent, monitor and treat these conditions.

"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," said associate professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania and study leader Kathryn Schmitz in a news release.

According to a study by the Department of Health and Cancer Research UK, up to 10 women undergo unnecessary treatment for every one whose life is saved.

“We are overtreating a significant number of women,” said Prof Carlos Caldas, who led the British study. “We are not doing that because we are evil, we overtreat them because we just cannot precisely define the ones who are going to benefit. If we could … spare them treatments instead of adding more and more toxic treatments, that would have enormous value for women.”

The Mayo Clinic’s website says limiting alcohol consumption, controlling your weight, exercising, breastfeeding, discontinuing hormone therapy, and avoiding air pollution may decrease one’s risk of developing breast cancer.


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