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Breast. 2013 Oct;22(5):767-72. doi: 10.1016/j.breast.2013.01.006. Epub 2013 Feb 12.

Sickness absence in relation to breast and arm symptoms shortly after breast cancer surgery.

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  • 1Division of Insurance Medicine, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden; Sophiahemmet University, Stockholm, Sweden. Electronic address:



To determine whether and, to what extent, breast and arm symptoms are associated with sick leave (SL) shortly after breast cancer (BC) surgery, and to investigate the associations of these symptoms and different surgical procedures with SL, adjusting for age and work posture. Women (n = 511), aged 26-63 years, who worked ≥ 75% before a BC diagnosis, were included within 12 weeks of surgery.


31% reported breast symptoms and 22% arm symptoms; and, of these, 47% reported both. Having strenuous work postures increased the OR for being on SL most (OR 2.60), followed by breast symptoms (OR 2.40), more extensive axillary (OR 2.24) or breast surgery (OR 2.13), and arm symptoms (OR 2.06).


Breast and arm symptoms are as strongly associated with being on SL as types of breast and/or axillary surgery. Early self-reported symptoms are important to consider in guidelines for SL and rehabilitation after BC surgery.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Breast and arm symptoms; Breast cancer; Breast cancer surgery; Oncology; Sick leave; Work

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