Breast cancer survivors needed for U of S study

SASKATOON – Researchers from the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) know that one in nine women in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. Fortunately, the survival rate for breast cancer is high, however, it often results in upper limb impairments following surgery.

“Breast cancer survivors often experience pain, stiffness, restricted range of motion and subsequent functional limitations,” said Soo Kim, associate professor in the School of Rehabilitation Sciences at the U of S. “In a recent survey of Saskatchewan women, over 75 per cent reported at least one type of shoulder problem after treatment.”

There is also evidence to suggest that the biomechanics (motion) of the whole shoulder are affected following surgery and treatment. Altered shoulder biomechanics are of interest to researchers Soo Kim, Stephan Milosavljevic and their PhD student, Angelica Lang, because these changes are associated with other arm disorders in the months and years following treatment.

“Due to changes at the shoulder from treatment, breast cancer survivors may be more likely to develop rotator cuff disorders,” said Lang. “Defining biomechanical contributions to the potential development of rotator cuff problems can inform doctors and physiotherapists during treatment and rehabilitation, particularly for the return to work process.”

The research team is currently looking to recruit women between the ages of 35 and 65 who have had a mastectomy at least six months ago. Participation involves one data collection session in which all participants will perform upper limb focused tasks while outfitted with motion capture equipment to track movements and muscle activity.

The information gathered in this study will inform future studies and aims to provide specific guidance to doctors and physiotherapists regarding shoulder rehabilitation and return to work recommendations for breast cancer survivors.

To participate in the study, email, or call 639-480-5595.



For more information, please contact:

Angelica Lang
PhD Candidate
School of Rehabilitation Science
University of Saskatchewan