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Immune System Weakened for Months after Chemotherapy in Some Breast Cancer Survivors

Posted on February 2, 2016 by Disability Help Group

Chemotherapy treatment is one of the main reasons cancer patients file for disability benefits. The effects of the treatment often cause debilitating side effects that prevent them from working and earning an income, even if their cancer has gone into remission. Approximately 30 percent of breast cancer patients receive chemotherapy after primary tumor removal. Chemotherapy drugs attack cells that divide quickly, a property of both cancer cells and bone marrow cells that play an integral role in immune system support. Recently, researchers from the University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in the UK looked further into the severity of the impact of chemotherapy on breast cancer survivors. They studied 88 breast cancer patients with primary tumors during a nine-month follow-up period. The researchers monitored the levels of antibodies and lymphocytes following completion of chemotherapy treatment. The study, published in Breast Cancer Research, found that the majority of the participants had drastically low levels of major lymphocytes after completing chemotherapy. Over the nine-month follow-up period, significant cell types such as B cells and helper T cells were only at 65 percent recovery by the end of the follow-up period, and remained at that level for three months. Antibodies for certain diseases such as tetanus and pneumonia were also deficient, leading researchers to conclude that chemotherapy can cause an increased risk of infection to post-treatment patients.

A Weakened Immune System Can Complicate Cancer Recovery

Cancer patients’ disability often stems from complications related to chemotherapy and compromised immune systems, not always the cancer itself. If a doctor diagnosed you with cancer and you are undergoing treatment that makes it impossible for you to work and earn a substantial income, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Contact the Disability Help Group online or call us at 1-(800)-800-3332 to schedule a consultation with our disability advocates!