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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1992;21(2):139-45.

Comparison of pain, motion, and edema after modified radical mastectomy vs. local excision with axillary dissection and radiation.

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  • 1Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Warren Grant Magnuson Clinical Center, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892.


Recent data suggest that prognosis is similar for women with primary breast cancer whether they receive modified radical mastectomy (MRM) or local excision and axillary dissection with radiation (XRT). The effects of either of these treatments on arm mobility, pain, or edema have not been compared. To assess the impact of MRM or XRT on mobility, pain, or edema, we evaluated patients treated in a prospective randomized trial designed to assess prognosis following MRM or XRT. All were provided a standardized physical therapy program including arm mobilization, shoulder strengthening, prevention and treatment of upper extremity edema, and education about arm function. Patients were evaluated for chest wall pain, arm motion, muscle strength, and edema as determined by circumferential measurements at the wrist, forearm, and arm. Evaluations were performed preoperatively and at yearly anniversaries of their surgery. Women receiving XRT had more chest wall tenderness at 1 and 2 years after surgery than those receiving MRM (p2 less than 0.0001 and p2 = 0.0007 respectively). Those receiving MRM were slower to reach their preoperative range of motion (ROM) (p2 = 0.043). Incidence of muscle weakness was similar in both groups. The few patients with local recurrence of tumor had more upper extremity edema than those who did not recur (p2 = 0.085) at 1 year and (p2 = 0.02) at 2 years. In patients who did not develop local recurrence, those who had received XRT had greater but nonsignificant increases in upper extremity circumferential measures compared with those receiving MRM at any anniversary evaluation. Patients receiving MRM and XRT are likely to have some differences in functional outcome.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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