The results of a 2-year research joint project between TurningPoint, the Avon Breast Center at Grady Hospital, Emory University and Morehouse School of Medicine were presented by Dr. Lisa Lai at a recent meeting of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, held in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Lai is a surgeon doing Fellowship Training with Dr. Sheryl Gabram at the Avon Breast Center. Dr. Gabram is a TurningPoint Medical Advisory Board member.
The goal of the research project was to examine the feasibility and impact of a prospective surveillance approach to breast cancer rehabilitation. Subjects were 110 patients with Stage 0 – III breast cancer. Most were inner-city and minority women. Shoulder range of motion, arm volume and function was measured before surgery, early post-operatively (2-4 weeks), 6 weeks and then at 3 month intervals for up to a year post-op.
We found that approximately 1/3 of patients had early stage lymphedema and other upper extremity limitations that warranted rehabilitation intervention. Patients with higher breast cancer stage, greater numbers of lymph nodes removed and who received chemotherapy were found to have more treatment side effects that required more rehabilitation intervention. Patients with lower levels of function and higher pain levels at their early post-operative visit were more likely to need rehabilitation intervention. Our research team concluded that early identification and management of breast cancer treatment side effects (such as decreased function, limited range of motion and lymphedema) may decrease the impact of these issues and potentially improve quality of life.
Dr. Lisa Lai (left), Breast Cancer Surgical Fellow at Avon Breast Center at Grady and Emory University with members of TurningPoint’s physical therapy staff, l to r: Grayson Webb, Carrie Kozel and Lauren Bober. Dr. Lai visited TurningPoint recently to further increase her understanding of the role of rehabilitation for breast cancer patients.