Cancer survivors, especially people who are old, are more likely to experience accelerated functional decline as they age, compared with those without a history of cancer, according to a new study.
As per new research published in the ‘Journal of the American Geriatrics Society’, it was found that from 2006 to 2019, 1728 men and women, between the age of 22 to 100, were evaluated, with 359 of these adults reporting a history of cancer.
Among all the participants, a history of cancer was associated with a 1.42 greater odds of weak grip strength (a measure of muscular strength). In the participants older than 65 years of age, those with a history of cancer had a 1.61 greater odds of slow gait speed (the time one takes to walk a specified distance on level surfaces over a short distance) than those with no cancer history, and they had lower physical performance scores.
Further, the study revealed that older individuals with a history of cancer experienced steeper declines in grip strength and gait speed compared with older adults with no history of cancer.
“Findings from our study add to the evidence that cancer and its treatment may have adverse effects on aging-related processes, putting cancer survivors at risk for accelerated functional decline,” said senior author Ms. Lisa Gallicchio, Ph.D., of the National Cancer Institute.
To develop interventions to prevent, mitigate, or reverse the adverse aging-related effects of cancer and its treatment, the first step is to understand which cancer survivors are at the highest risk, and when the accelerated decline in physical functioning is most likely to begin.