Interventions for treatment related side effects in older women with breast cancer

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Suarez, Stephanie
Breast cancer; Interventions; Older women; Side effects; Nursing
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Over half (57%) of the women diagnosed with breast cancer are age 65 and older. Treatment for breast cancer may exacerbate current chronic illnesses and/or cause multiple treatment related side effects such as insomnia, fatigue, decreased physical functioning, alterations in body image, poorer quality of life, and changes in psychosocial health. While many women with breast cancer experience these changes, research suggests that older women have different needs than younger women and may not always benefit from interventions. The purpose of this integrative review of literature was to evaluate interventions designed to improve treatment related side effects in female breast cancer survivors age 65 years and older. This review of literature was conducted using CINAHL, PsycINFO, and MEDLINE databases using various key terms. Inclusion criteria consisted of peer reviewed research articles, women who have experience breast cancer, interventions directed at decreasing side effects, and research articles written in the English language.While using these search criteria, no interventions were found therefore, the age group was lowered to include women 50 and older. Eleven studies met the inclusion criteria. Interventions addressed a variety of treatment related side effects and were delivered in multiple formats. The findings indicate that interventions resulted in a significant improvement in sleep and fatigue, physical function, perception of body image, psychosocial health, and quality of life for older women with breast cancer. While these findings are positive, the literature did not break down results based on developmental stage or "older" age groups. Currently, there is limited literature that examines interventions in women age 65 and older, this may limit nurses' ability to suggest successful interventions to some of our oldest cancer survivors.