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Health Behaviors Among Cancer Survivors Receiving Screening Mammography

Rausch, Sarah M. PhD*; Millay, Shannon MPH*; Scott, Chris MS; Pruthi, Sandhya MD; Clark, Matthew M. PhD; Patten, Christi PhD; Stan, Daniela MD; Sellers, Thomas PhD*; Vachon, Celine PhD

American Journal of Clinical Oncology: February 2012 - Volume 35 - Issue 1 - p 22–31
doi: 10.1097/COC.0b013e318200598e
Original Articles: Breast

Objectives The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of cancer-related behavioral risk factors among female cancer survivors, relative to women without a previous diagnosis of cancer.

Methods In a large cohort of 19,948 women presenting for screening mammography, questionnaires on health behaviors were administered.

Results A total of 18,510 had detailed history on health behaviors and previous cancer history. Overall 2713 (14.7%) reported a previous cancer history. We found statistically significant results indicating that cancer survivors were less likely than those with no cancer history to: report their overall health as “excellent” (13.6% vs. 21.5%), to engage in moderate or strenuous exercise (56.5% vs. 63.3%), and to use complementary and alternative medicine (57.4% vs. 60.2%). Conversely, cancer survivors were more likely to be current smokers (6.3% vs. 5.5%), rate their overall health as “poor” (15.8% vs. 9.1%), and to report more weight gain over time. Among cancer survivors, differences also emerged by the type of primary cancer. For example, cervical cancer survivors (n = 370) were most likely to report being current smokers (15.7%) and regular alcohol users (71.7%) compared with other survivors. Ovarian (n = 185) and uterine (n = 262) cancer survivors most frequently reported being obese (41% and 34.4%, respectively). Cervical cancer survivors reported the largest weight gain (4.9 lbs at 5 y and 13.4 lbs at 10 y).

Conclusions These results suggest opportunities for tailored behavioral health risk factor interventions for specific populations of cancer survivors.

*H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, FL

Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

This project is funded in part by the NCI (5R01CA097396; Vachon, PI).The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Sarah M. Rausch, PhD, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, 12902 Magnolia Drive MRC/PSY, Tampa, FL 33612. e-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.