Comparison of posture and balance in cancer survivors and age-matched controls

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The combination of peripheral neuropathy and other treatment-associated side effects is likely related to an increased incidence of falls in cancer survivors. The purpose of this study was to quantify differences in postural stability between healthy age-matched controls and cancer survivors.


Quiet standing under four conditions (eyes open/closed, rigid/compliant surface) was assessed in 34 cancer survivors (2 males, 32 females; age: 54(13) yrs., height: 1.62(0.07) m; mass: 78.5(19.5) kg) and 34 age-matched controls (5 males, 29 females; age: 54(15) yrs.; height: 1.62(0.08) m; mass: 72.8(21.1) kg). Center of pressure data were collected for 30 s and the trajectories were analyzed (100 Hz). Three-factor (group*surface*vision) mixed model MANOVAs with repeated measures were used to determine the effect of vision and surface on postural steadiness between groups.


Cancer survivors exhibited larger mediolateral root-mean square distance and velocity of the center of pressure, as well as increased 95% confidence ellipse area (P < 0.01) when compared with their age-matched counterparts. For example, when removing visual input, cancer survivors had an average increase in 95% confidence ellipse area of 91.8 mm2 while standing on a rigid surface compared to a 68.6 mm2 increase for the control group. No frequency-based center of pressure measures differed between groups.


Cancer survivors exhibit decreased postural steadiness when compared with age-matched controls. For cancer survivors undergoing rehabilitation focused on existing balance deficits, a small subset of the center of pressure measures presented here can be used to track progress throughout the intervention and potentially mitigate fall risk.

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