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Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2012 Apr;16(2):131-41. doi: 10.1188/12.CJON.131-141.

Pilates for breast cancer survivors.

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  • 1Division of General Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA.


Pilates has been advocated for rehabilitation of breast cancer survivors despite little scientific evidence. The authors of this article have examined the feasibility of a Pilates program in postmastectomy breast cancer survivors and the impact on physical and psychological parameters. Fifteen breast cancer survivors were recruited in a one-arm study of 12 weeks of Pilates exercises. The authors assessed recruitment, adherence, and attrition, and measured changes in shoulder and neck range of motion, posture, height, arm volume, quality of life, mood, and body image from pre- to postintervention. Of 26 eligible patients, 15 enrolled, 13 completed the study, and 10 performed more than 50% of the recommended sessions. Statistically significant improvements emerged for shoulder abduction and internal rotation on the affected side, neck rotation toward the unaffected side, and neck flexion. The affected side arm volume and the interlimb volume discrepancy increased. Significant improvements were reported in quality of life, mood, and body image. The improvements in physical and psychological outcomes are promising and deserve further evaluation in a randomized, controlled study. The increase in affected arm volume also warrants additional investigation.

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