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    Awarded Grants
    Cancer Rehabilitation for Low Income and Hispanic Breast Cancer Patients

    Scientific Abstract:
    Cancer Rehabilitation for Minority/Low-income Breast Cancer Patients: Most breast cancer survivors are faced with significant new challenges after diagnosis, and these challenges can be particularly difficult for minority and low-income women. In Colorado, for example, we have recently shown that 5-year survival for regional stage disease is lower not only for Hispanic women, but for women living in poverty. This project is a vanguard study to test the effectiveness of a comprehensive cancer rehabilitation program to reduce morbidity and improve quality of life among low-income and Hispanic breast cancer survivors. A key component of this rehab program is physical activity, which has been shown to have potential benefits for cancer survivors both during and after treatment. Several challenges faced by breast cancer survivors such as fatigue, arm pain, and distress are especially well suited to benefit from exercise. A unique aspect of this project is the expanded use of a community-based exercise program for Hispanic cancer survivors. The field of cardiology now includes rehabilitation following myocardial infarction as a standard, enabled by intervention trials that demonstrated the efficacy of rehab programs on quality of life. We envision a rehabilitation program will be similarly efficacious for breast cancer patients, particularly low-income and minority women at risk for ongoing difficulties. Specific questions to be answered by this vanguard trial are: 1. What proportion of low income and Hispanic breast cancer survivors will agree to be recruited into an RCT of this type? 2. What proportion will follow-through with the rehabilitation program? 3. How acceptable will be the set of measures of fitness and quality of life? 4. What estimates of the size of the intervention effect and the variation in outcomes will enable full trial planning? We propose to enroll 100 breast cancer survivors at a local community hospital over a 2-year period. Subjects randomized to the cancer rehabilitation program (n=50) will receive a comprehensive, personalized plan that includes nutritional, psychological, and educational components and an exercise program. This overall plan will be delivered by a trained medical professional closely linked to the hospital staff. Not only will this project provide direct assistance to underserved women, the findings will also be used to demonstrate the feasibility and test measures for a full randomized, controlled trial for cancer rehabilitation that could potentially benefit all breast cancer survivors.

    Lay Abstract:
    Cancer Rehabilitation for Minority/Low-income Breast Cancer Patients: Most breast cancer survivors are faced with significant new challenges after diagnosis, ranging from fatigue and pain to psychosocial concerns. The current standard of care for cancer patients does not include comprehensive rehabilitation to assist in the multi-dimensional aspects of their recovery and survivorship experience. Of note is that many of these challenges can be more difficult for minority and low-income women, who have already been shown to experience poorer 5-year survival from breast cancer. This project is a vanguard study to test the effectiveness of a comprehensive cancer rehabilitation program to reduce morbidity and improve quality of life among low-income and Hispanic breast cancer survivors. A key component of this rehab program will be physical activity, which has been shown to have potential benefits for cancer survivors both during and after treatment. Several challenges faced by breast cancer survivors, such as fatigue, arm pain, and distress are especially well suited to benefit from exercise. A unique aspect of this project is the expanded use of an ongoing community-based exercise program tailored for Hispanic cancer survivors. The field of cardiology now includes a standard for rehabilitation following myocardial infarction. This practice was enabled by scientifically conducted studies that demonstrated the efficacy of rehab programs on quality of life. We envision a comprehensive cancer rehabilitation program will provide similar benefits to breast cancer patients, particularly low-income and minority women at risk for ongoing difficulties such as pain and distress. We propose to enroll 100 breast cancer survivors at the local community hospital over a 2-year period. Half the patients will randomly be chosen for the cancer rehabilitation program and will receive a comprehensive, personalized plan that includes nutritional, psychological, and educational components as well as an exercise program. This overall plan will be delivered and progress monitored by a trained medical professional closely linked to the hospital staff and physical therapists/exercise trainers with specialized training in cancer. Not only will this project provide direct assistance to underserved women, the findings will also be used to demonstrate the feasibility and test measures to be used to monitor changes after the program for a scientifically sound intervention study for cancer rehabilitation that could potentially benefit all breast cancer survivors.