Breast cancer survivors may be at greater risk for falls

Alan Wu

March 8, 2011

A new study has found that the effects of endocrine therapy and chemotherapy may increase a breast cancer survivor's risk of falls. Researchers speculate that this is because the treatments may negatively affect the vestibular system, which is fundamental for spatial orientation and coordination.

The team of scientists found that, out of 59 breast cancer survivors, 58 percent of them had fallen before the study began and almost half had another fall within six months. This is far greater than the normal rate of falling, which generally ranges from 25 to 30 percent.

"Falls in breast cancer survivors are understudied and deserve more attention, particularly in light of the increase in fractures after breast cancer treatment and the relationship of falls to fractures," Dr. Kerri M. Winters-Stone said in a statement.

Patients who are recovering from breast cancer may want to help ensure their safety by installing a personal emergency response system. This device can be used to instantly send a medical alert to doctors if one is in need of assistance.

This could be a particularly important addition to the home, because the study also revealed that many of the patients suffered from broken bones due to the falls.