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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 58  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 201-206

A descriptive study on prevalence of arm/shoulder problems and its impact on quality of life in breast cancer survivors

Department of General Surgery, University College of Medical Sciences and Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Priyansh Jariwala
Department of General Surgery, University College of Medical Sciences and Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijc.IJC_22_19

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Background: Surgery for breast cancer and adjuvant radiotherapy are frequently associated with impairment of arm/shoulder function and development of lymphedema. However, most of the studies in Indian breast cancer survivors (BCSs) have focused on the development of lymphedema even though restriction of shoulder movement and pain are even more prevalent and adversely affect the quality of life (QOL). Hence, this study was conducted with the objectives to (1) study the prevalence of arm/shoulder problems (ASPs) including restricted shoulder mobility (ROM), lymphedema and arm/shoulder pain (2) assessment of the QOL in BCSs (3) to study the impact of ASPs on QOL. Methods: This descriptive study was conducted on BCSs at an academic center in Delhi These patients underwent a mastectomy and axillary lymph node dissection with adjuvant therapies and were within 6 months to 5 years of follow-up. Assessment of ASPs was done using Kwan's arm problem scale (KAPS), and survivors with scores of more than 21.5 were considered to have significant ASPs. Assessment of shoulder movements was done by using a goniometer, lymphedema by measuring arm circumference at multiple points and arm/shoulder pain by using a numerical pain rating scale (NPRS). QOL was assessed using short form (SF-36) questionnaire. Results: A total of 212 BCSs were studied with a mean duration of follow-up of 2.7 years (range = 6 months - 60 months). The prevalence of ASPs was 49% on KAPS. Prevalence of ROM, lymphedema, and arm/shoulder pain was found to be 51%, 27%, and 12% respectively. Patients with ASPs had poorer QOL scores on SF-36, significantly affecting both physical and mental component summary score. Among ASPs, worst scores were reported for limb swelling. Conclusion: There is a high prevalence of ASPs in BCSs. Survivorship care plans should appropriately address these issues.


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