AACR Logo Physical health scores apparently determine the outcome for breast cancer patients. A groundbreaking study claims that breast cancer survivors with poor physical health scores have an increased threat of poorer cancer outcomes such as recurrence and death. It was mentioned that physical health seemingly has a strong impact on the survival of cancer patients.

At the time of the study, investigators measured physical health scores of 9,387 early-stage breast cancer survivors. The physical health scores were analyzed by means of the SF-36, a multipurpose, short-form health survey taken after diagnosis, with follow-up occurring on average seven years later. In physical health score, information on how an individual perceives their own physical functioning, bodily pain and limitations caused by physical problems are allegedly included.

“Here we see a single metric that predicts risk. Variables cluster together and are summarized in the physical health score. The question becomes how to improve the physical health status of this particular group of breast cancer survivors,” elucidated John P. Pierce, Ph.D., who is the Sam M. Walton professor for cancer prevention and associate director for population sciences at Moores Cancer Center.

Authors found that around half the women in the sample had a physical health score that met the survey definition of poor physical health. Low physical health scores were supposedly linked with a higher BMI. Subjects with low scores apparently were less physically active and 64 percent more likely to have sleep difficulties. These patients also had 50 percent higher rates of high blood pressure and diabetes that may have raised the risk of arthritis by two-fold.

Breast cancer survivors with poor health scores reportedly were 27 percent more likely to experience either a recurrence of their cancer or a new breast cancer. Also the risk of death from any cause appeared 65 percent greater in those with poorer health scores. Scientists therefore suggest that instead of looking at breast cancer survivors as a whole, women with low physical health scores have to be taken care of.

The study was presented at the AACR 102nd Annual Meeting 2011, held April 2-6.