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Cancer. 1981 Mar 1;47(5):877-81.

The effect of pre- and postmastectomy radiotherapy on the degree of edema, shoulder-joint mobility, and gripping force.


Women undergoing mastectomy for cancer were assigned at random to three groups, each with about 310 patients. In one group, radiotherapy was given before the operation, and in the second group, it was given after the operation. In the third group, no radiotherapy was given. About 160 patients from each group were examined for the degree of edema of the arm, mobility of the shoulder--represented by 5 indices--and gripping force. Except for gripping force, the findings were significantly better for the group not receiving radiotherapy than for the groups given irradiation. There was no statistically significant difference between the groups receiving radiotherapy before or after mastectomy. For all groups, there was significant edema of the arm and a decrease in the mobility of the shoulder compared with that of the control arm, except for the rotations in the group not receiving irradiation.

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