Methods to improve rehabilitation of patients following breast cancer surgery

Breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst women but it has the highest survival rates amongst all cancer. Rehabilitation therapy of post-treatment effects from cancer and its treatment is necessary to improve functioning and quality of life. This review investigates the range of methods for improving physical, psychosocial, occupational, and social wellbeing in women with breast cancer following their having recieved breast cancer surgery. Evidence for exercise rehabilitation is predominantly in the improvement of shoulder mobility and limb strength. Inconclusive results exist for a range of rehabilitation methods (physical, psycho-education, nutritional, alternative-complementary methods) for addressing the domains of psychosocial, cognitive, and occupational outcomes.

There is good evidence for narrowly-focused exercise rehabilitation in improving physical outcome particularly for shoulder mobility and lymphedema. There were inconclusive results for methods to improve psychosocial, cognitive, and occupational outcomes. There weren’t reviews on broader performance areas and lifestyle factors to enable effective living after treatment. The review indicates that comprehensiveness and effectiveness of post-operative breast cancer rehabilitation should consider patients’ self-management approaches towards lifestyle redesign, and incorporate health promotion aspects, in light of the fact that breast cancer is now taking the form of a chronic illness with longer survivorship years.