Mobility disabilities plague elderly cancer survivors

20 Oct 2020

Elderly survivors of cancer are more likely to need mobility devices than those without such a history, a recent study has found.

Researchers conducted a cross-sectional analysis on a nationally representative sample of 6,080 elderly adults, of whom 1,203 had survived cancer. Through in-person home interviews, information about use of mobility devices (canes, scooters, wheelchairs, and walkers), falls, and pain were collected. Participants also underwent the 3-m gait speed test to estimate mobility disability.

Overall, 20 percent of the participants said they had used a mobility device in the last month. Of these, 7.35 percent used two or more devices. The single-point cane was the most commonly used device, while the scooter was the least.

Elderly adults with a history of cancer tended to use mobility devices more than their noncancer counterparts (23.4 percent vs 19 percent). Ten percent of breast cancer survivors, 5.7 percent of prostate cancer survivors, and 3.4 percent of colorectal cancer survivors reported using two or more devices in the past month.

Logistic regression analysis, however, showed that this difference in mobility device use was not statistically significant (odds ratio [OR], 1.23, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.96–1.57; p=0.10).

In terms of mobility disabilities, cancer survivors showed lower mean gait speed score than controls (2.27 vs 2.39), and the resulting odds estimate was statistically significant (OR, 0.82, 95 percent CI, 0.67–1.00; p<0.05).

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