Individuals Affected by Cancer are More Likely to Fall
And those who fall are more likely to suffer an injury
Overview of the Research

Recent studies have found that adults with cancer:
  • Are more likely to fall than those without cancer 1
  • Those who fall are more likely to report a poorer quality of life and are at increased risk of disability
  • Men who have used androgen deprivation therapy are twice as likely to fall and to sustain a fall that causes an injury 2
Researchers who completed a recent retrospective cohort study of a national survey3 found:
  • Overall, older adults who have fallen previously are five times more likely to report a fall in future assessments
  • Women with breast cancer, who report sensory impairment in their feet, are three times more likely to report future falls
  • Risk factors for men with prostate cancer include: history of falls (before or during cancer treatment), lower physical health score, unmarried status, urinary incontinence, older age at diagnosis and a timeframe close to cancer treatment puts them at a three-fold risk of future falling
Here is an overview of some of the most compelling research to date:
  • Predictors of falling:
    • Postural stability 4
    • Each cycle of chemotherapy increases the risk of falling 5
    • Taxanes increase risk of falling 5
    • Pain, fatigue and deconditioning 1
    • Limitations in daily living and using an assistive device 6


Cancer Rehabilitation Can Help

A systematic review and meta-analysis found that even for adults with multiple coexisting conditions who were frail, an exercise program with balance, strength and endurance training components was most effective in reducing fall risk factors.7
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References

  1. Bird M-L, Cheney MJ, Williams AD. Accidental Fall Rates in Community-Dwelling Adults Compared to Cancer Survivors During and Post-Treatment: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis. Paper presented at: Oncology nursing forum2016.
  2. Winters‐Stone KM, Moe E, Graff JN, et al. Falls and frailty in prostate cancer survivors: current, past, and never users of androgen deprivation therapy. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2017;65(7):1414-1419.
  3. Hess LM, Huang HQ, Hanlon AL, et al. Cognitive function during and six months following chemotherapy for front-line treatment of ovarian, primary peritoneal or fallopian tube cancer: An NRG oncology/gynecologic oncology group study. Gynecol Oncol. 2015;139(3):541-545.
  4. Fino PC, Horak FB, El-Gohary M, et al. Postural sway, falls, and self-reported neuropathy in aging female cancer survivors. Gait & posture. 2019.
  5. Tofthagen C, Overcash J, Kip K. Falls in persons with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. Supportive care in cancer. 2012;20(3):583-589.
  6. Bylow K, Dale W, Mustian K, et al. Falls and physical performance deficits in older patients with prostate cancer undergoing androgen deprivation therapy. Urology. 2008;72(2):422-427.
  7. Cadore EL, Rodríguez-Mañas L, Sinclair A, Izquierdo M. Effects of different exercise interventions on risk of falls, gait ability, and balance in physically frail older adults: a systematic review. Rejuvenation research. 2013;16(2):105-114.