Kathleen Cawley
Physiology of Neuromuscular Fatigue in Early Stage Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy

SchoolOur Lady of the Elms


ProgramScience


MentorVlodek Siemionow, PhD


DepartmentBiomedical Engineering


Research
Physiology of Neuromuscular Fatigue in Early Stage Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy
Hypothesis
Chemotherapy patients will encounter impaired neuromuscular mechanisms that decrease physical performance.
Methodology
Four women, aged 50.2 ± 4.2 years old, with early stage breast cancer and four similarly aged healthy women as controls were evaluated. Patients are free of active cancer and plan to undergo adjuvant chemotherapy treatment. The women were tested before chemotherapy (CT) but three to four weeks after surgery to remove tumors, then again during the third or fourth cycle of CT. They participated in two subjective fatigue tests, the Brief Fatigue Inventory (BFI) and the Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) on the Borg scale. The maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) of the elbow flexors was measured. Their sustained elbow flexion contraction was measured once at 30% of their MVC for as long as possible to assess fatigue.
Outcomes
This study suggests that breast cancer patients have increased fatigue and less physical capabilities than healthy subjects. The muscle fatigue results in the involvement of both the central nervous system and the muscular system. A study could be devised that would include a measurement before surgery to eliminate any stress caused by surgery recovery.

Interpretations

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The Physical and Psychological Affects of Chemotherapy on Breast Cancer Patients