Preoperative education may improve shoulder range of motion (ROM) in women undergoing breast cancer surgery, according to research published in Medicine.

The researchers noted that shoulder dysfunction and lymphedema are chronic complications of breast cancer surgery that can affect psychosocial adjustment, quality of life, and functional status.

The researchers sought to evaluate whether preoperative education may improve chronic complication risk. To that end, 62 women undergoing breast cancer surgery between May 2018 and February 2020 in South Korea were recruited for this prospective, randomized, controlled trial.

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Patients were randomly assigned to receive 30-minute personal education and educational brochures (31 patients) or educational brochures alone (31 patients). The primary outcome was postoperative shoulder function.

Breast-conserving surgery was performed in 21 patients in the experimental arm and 24 in the control arm. The mean age at baseline was 55.60 years in the experimental arm and 56.16 years in the control arm. The patients’ BMIs were 25.05 kg/m2 and 24.29 kg/m2, respectively.

The intervention was associated with greater shoulder abduction (P =.042) and forward flexion (P =.039) 6 months after surgery. However, there were no other differences between the experimental and control groups in shoulder ROM at baseline or 1, 3, 6, or 12 months after surgery.

In all patients, the short disability of arm shoulder and hand outcome measure (P =.015) improved at 3 months after surgery. Internal rotation (P =.020), pain visual analog scale (P =.046), arm circumference 5 cm above the elbow (P =.021), and arm circumference 5 cm below the elbow (P =.013) improved at 6 months after surgery. Shoulder pain and disability index (P =.036) improved at 12 months after surgery.

This study suggests that personalized preoperative education improved some aspects of shoulder ROM following breast cancer surgery. The major limitation of this study was the small sample size, which did not allow for subgroup analyses.


Byun H, Jang Y, Kim JY, Kim JM, Lee CH. Effects of preoperative personal education on shoulder function and lymphedema in patients with breast cancer: A consort. Medicine. 2022;101(38):e30810. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000030810

This article originally appeared on Oncology Nurse Advisor