This analysis examined climacteric symptoms clusters in women with and without breast cancer, and explored how sociodemographic, health, and modifiable lifestyle factors predicted symptom clusters.
This pooled analysis of four Women's Wellness Research Program (WWRP) studies comprised individual-level data from 969 Australian women aged 40 to 63 years, 293 of whom had been previously treated for breast cancer and 678 without a breast cancer history. Climacteric symptoms, menopausal status, sociodemographic characteristics, and health and lifestyle factors were assessed. Principal component analysis was used to determine symptom clusters for each group separately before linear regression with backwards selection was used to identify the significant correlates of the identified clusters.
Women with a history of breast cancer reported more sleep disturbance (P < 0.01), difficulty concentrating (P < 0.01), muscular/joint pain (P < 0.01), crying (P < 0.01) and irritability (P < 0.01), and vasomotor symptoms (P < 0.01) than women from the noncancer group. Principal component analysis with quartimax rotation revealed two distinct solutions explaining 60.9% and 57.6% of the variance in the groups, respectively. For both groups, symptom clusters were increased among those with unhealthy lifestyle behaviors (and chemotherapy among the after cancer group, P < 0.05 for all), though to a lesser extent in the breast cancer group.
In this study, women after treatment for breast cancer reported a broad range of bothersome climacteric symptoms. Similar symptom clusters were also noted for women with and without a history of breast cancer, though correlates differed across groups, and might reflect different underlying etiologies.