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International Journal of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Volume 4 (2018), Article ID 4:IJPTR-147, 4 pages
Review Article
Effects of Breast Cancer Treatment on Shoulder Function: What to Expect and How to Treat?

Neto CM1*, Pezarat P2 and Oliveira R2

1Hospital Prof. Dr. Fernando Fonseca, Amadora, 2720-276, Portugal
2Faculdade de Motricidade Humana, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisboa, 1649-004, Portugal
Dr. Carla Martinho Neto, PT in Hospital Prof. Dr. Fernando Fonseca, Amadora, Portugal and PhD student in Faculdade de Motricidade Humana-Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal; E-mail:
10 June 2018; 08 December 2018; 10 December 2018
Neto CM, Pezarat P, Oliveira R (2018) Effects of Breast Cancer Treatment on Shoulder Function: What to Expect and How to Treat? Int J Phys Ther Rehab 4: 147. doi:


Breast cancer treatment may lead to side effects such as shoulder pain, restricted shoulder mobility, fibrosis, breast cancer-related lymphedema, and anatomical and biomechanical changes of the shoulder, which will contribute to functional status limitations. Function of the upper limb requires adequate mobility of the shoulder, including the scapula, and an efficient neuromuscular coordination. Movement deviation patterns in women following surgery for breast cancer are similar to those seen in other known shoulder conditions. Exercise therapy and scapular stabilization exercises were found to be an effective approach for controlling pain, promote normal motor control and decreasing disability. The main purpose of the present paper is to review the shoulder movement dysfunctions after breast cancer treatment and to briefly characterize the main physical therapy intervention strategies to treat or prevent these dysfunctions.