Background: Functional limitations have been associated with poor survival among women with breast cancer within the first year of diagnosis. The long-term prognostic role of these difficulties in the completion of tasks of everyday life remains unknown. Methods: We studied a cohort of 2270 women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1997 and 2000, who provided information on functional limitations of body functions involving endurance, strength, muscular range of motion and small muscle dexterity at enrollment. The median follow up was 8.7 years (range 0-10 years). We investigated the association of functional limitations with survival from all causes, breast cancer and competing (non-breast cancer) causes in delayed entry Cox regression models. All statistical tests were two-sided. Results: Proportionately more patients with limitations were older, less educated and obese (p<.0001 for each) versus those without these difficulties. The age-adjusted hazard ratio for functional limitations as a 13-level variable of 1.08 (95%CI 1.05-1.14) suggests that there was an 8% increase in risk of death with each additional limitation. In multivariate models, functional limitations were associated with a statistically significant risk of death from all causes [hazard ratio (HR)=1.40, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.03-1.92] and from competing causes (HR=2.60, 95%CI 1.69-3.98) but not breast cancer (HR=.90, 95%CI .64 −1.26). Conclusion: Women with breast cancer and functional limitations present after initial breast cancer treatment have a greater likelihood of dying of competing causes than breast cancer. Intervening to improve physical function among women with breast cancer may lead to improvements in life expectancy.

Note: This abstract was not presented at the AACR 101st Annual Meeting 2010 because the presenter was unable to attend.

Citation Format: {Authors}. {Abstract title} [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 101st Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2010 Apr 17-21; Washington, DC. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2010;70(8 Suppl):Abstract nr 887.