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Breast. 2000 Feb;9(1):45-51.

Physiotherapy treatment of late symptoms following surgical treatment of breast cancer.

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  • 1Surgical Department K, Sønderborg Hospital, Sydvang 1, 6400 Sønderborg, Denmark.


Women who have been subjected to surgical treatment for breast cancer may develop late sequelae in the area of operation on the chest wall and/or in the ipsilateral arm or shoulder after the immediate surgical discomfort has passed. As many patients seek treatment of their own accord by physiotherapists, we considered it relevant to evaluate the effect of two different physiotherapy regimes. We also wished to determine whether there was a possible relationship between occurrence of late sequelae and physical findings, carried out by means of a simple clinical examination based on physiotherapeutic methods of examination. Fifty-nine patients, 1-4 years postoperatively, were randomized to two different physiotherapy regimens. Patients were examined by a physician before and after the treatment, and they answered a questionnaire four times in all within the course of the investigation. The questionnaire covered six main late sequelae, as well as the degree of discomfort. Our investigation shows that many women experience late symptoms after surgical treatment of breast cancer, and that is possible in these patients, to demonstrate a reduction in strength in the ipsilateral extremity, reduced movement and increased muscle tone. Physiotherapy can improve the strength, movement and muscle tone in the operated extremity and also reduce the presence and severity of the late symptoms.

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