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Keywords:

  • gero-oncology;
  • elderly cancer survivorship;
  • path analysis;
  • physical function

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The majority of cancer survivors are aged ≥65 years, yet, historically, cancer research has focused infrequently on older patients. The objective of this study was to examine predictors of physical function within a framework that integrates the gerontologic and oncologic needs of older cancer survivors.

METHODS:

Path analysis tested 759 women who were breast cancer survivors aged ≥70 years from the American Cancer Society Study of Cancer Survivors II to examine the cancer, aging, and personal characteristics that had an impact on symptoms and physical functioning.

RESULTS:

High levels of symptom bother (β = −.42) and comorbidities (β = −.21) were strongly associated with lower physical function. Comorbidity and social support (β = .21) indirectly influenced symptom bother through emotional status (β = −.35). The model demonstrated good fit with the data (chi-square statistic, 50.6; adjusted chi-square statistic, 2.8; P < .001; goodness-of-fit index, .98; root mean square error of approximation, .049 [confidence interval, .03-.05]).

CONCLUSIONS:

The current findings supported prior research indicating that the majority of older survivors of breast cancer are doing well, but there is a subset of survivors that requires ongoing attention to symptoms, comorbidities, emotional health, and social support to thrive after cancer treatment. Cancer 2012. © 2012 American Cancer Society.