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An update on rehabilitative treatment of shoulder disease after breast cancer care

Musculoskelet Surg. 2023 Dec 1. doi: 10.1007/s12306-023-00806-w. Online ahead of print.


According to the latest statistics of the American Cancer Society 2022, breast cancer is a leading cause of morbidity and death among women worldwide. As a result of oncological procedures, breast cancer survivors often complain of pain and disability to the ipsilateral arm and shoulder. Objective: we aimed to analyze the latest literature regarding the efficacy of different rehabilitation treatments in patients affected by shoulder impairment secondary to breast cancer care. A comprehensive literature search was conducted on PubMed, PEDRO and Scopus databases. All English studies, published in the last decade up to March 2023, reporting shoulder problems in adult women treated for breast cancer with partial or total mastectomy ± breast reconstruction, lymphadenectomy, radio-, chemo-, hormonal or biologic therapy were assessed for eligibility. The methodological quality of the included trials was evaluated using the Cochrane bias tool. Of 159 articles identified, 26 were included in qualitative synthesis. Data from 1974 participants with a wide heterogeneity of breast cancer treatments were analyzed in this review. The methodological quality for most included studies was moderate. Several physiotherapy and interventional protocols showed some evidence of efficacy in shoulder range of motion (ROM), upper limb function, strength, pain and quality of life recovery after breast cancer treatment. Both physiotherapy alone or in combination with other techniques significantly improves shoulder disability, pain, and quality of life of patients undergoing breast cancer treatment regardless of their baseline characteristics or the time passed from surgery. The optimal treatment protocol and dosage remain unclear, and more homogeneous studies are needed in order to perform a meta-analysis of the literature.

PMID:38038901 | DOI:10.1007/s12306-023-00806-w

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