Shoulder disability and late symptoms following surgery for early breast cancer

Department of Experimental Clinical Oncology, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark.
Acta oncologica (Stockholm, Sweden) (Impact Factor: 2.27). 02/2008; 47(4):569-75. DOI: 10.1080/02841860801986627
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Axillary dissection in combination with radiation therapy is thought to be the main reason why patients surgically treated for breast cancer may develop decreased shoulder mobility on the operated side. The surgery performed on the breast has not been ascribed any considerable importance. In order to evaluate the influence of the surgical technique and the adjuvant oncological therapy on the development of shoulder morbidity, we assessed the physical disability in 132 breast cancer patients with a median follow-up time of 3 years after surgery.
Eighty nine (67%) patients had been subjected to modified radical mastectomy and 43 (33%) to breast conserving therapy (BCT). All patients had axillary dissection of level I and II. The shoulder function was assessed by the Constant Shoulder Score including both subjective parameters on pain and ability to perform the normal tasks of daily living, and objective parameters assessing active range of motion and muscle strength.
Shoulder disability seems to be a frequent late complication to the treatment of early breast cancer (35%). When equal axillary dissection and radiation therapy had been applied, BCT patients were found to suffer less frequent from this complication than patients treated with mastectomy.

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