Evidence has mounted that cancer survivors demonstrate impaired balance, gait, and increased risk of falls following chemotherapy treatment. This relationship must be clearly defined in order to screen for functional impairments, intervene appropriately, effectively advise stakeholders, and plan for future research.
To conduct a scoping review to systematically map the current literature on the effect of chemotherapy on balance, gait, and falls among cancer survivors.
Data Sources: Four databases were searched for studies. Study Selection: In total, 3769 abstracts were identified through literature searches. After screening and full-text review, 30 articles were included in this scoping review. Data Extraction: Data related to study design, temporality, sample characteristics, cancer/chemotherapy type(s), outcome measures, and relevant findings were extracted from full texts. Data Synthesis: Descriptive quantitative summaries were calculated and a narrative analysis was performed.
Discussion and Limitations:
The current body of literature is largely in agreement that chemotherapy negatively impacts static balance, dynamic balance, and gait and results in increased risk of falls throughout the survivorship continuum. The relationship between chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) and these outcomes is evident. Males, non–breast cancer diagnoses, and causal pathways other than CIPN are underrepresented in the literature.
This scoping review summarized the current body of literature related to the effect of chemotherapy on balance, gait, and falls. Clinical implications are proposed and suggestions made for future research to include more prospective studies with emphases on chemotherapy type and dosage, fewer sex-biased diagnoses, and to explore alternative causal pathways.