DURHAM, N.C. Women receiving care for breast cancer have significantly impaired cardio-pulmonary function that can persist for years after they have completed treatment, according to a study led by scientists at Duke University Medical Center.
The findings, reported online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, also provide initial evidence that poor cardio-pulmonary function may be a strong predictor of survival among women with advanced breast cancer.
"We know that exercise tolerance tests, which measure cardiopulmonary function, are among some of the most important indicators of health and longevity in people who do not have cancer; however, relatively little research has been done assessing the clinical importance of these tests in patients with cancer," said Lee Jones, PhD, associate professor at Duke and lead author of the study. "Our work provides initial insights into the effects a cancer diagnosis and subsequent therapy may have on how the heart, lungs and rest of the body work together during exercise."
Treatment regimens for breast cancer have saved lives, contributing to a decline in death rates of about 2.2 percent a year since 1990. But successful treatments often come at a heavy price to the cardiopulmonary system, including the lungs, heart, blood, and skeletal muscle.
Certain types of chemotherapy can impair the heart's pumping function, reduce the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body, and diminish the ability of muscle cells to work efficiently. Patients may also experience secondary effects of therapy, becoming less active and gaining weight, which can also impair cardiopulmonary function.
To begin to understand the direct and indirect effects of therapy on breast cancer patients,
Jones and his colleagues examined cardiopulmonary function at rest and during exercise in 248 women in various stages of treatment for breast cancer. All completed a carefully controlle
|Contact: Sarah Avery|
Duke University Medical Center