Early Rehabilitation for Breast Cancer - A Randomized Control Trial

  • End date
    Dec 31, 2022
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University of South Carolina
Updated on 10 May 2021


Upper extremity strength, range of motion, activity limitations, fatigue and pain are well-documented concerns for women receiving treatment for breast cancer. Research has shown that cancer-related treatment side effects are amenable to rehabilitation interventions when identified early during treatment for breast cancer. Despite this, early rehabilitation has been reported in only 1-2% of individuals diagnosed with cancer. The Prospective Surveillance Model (PSM), a comprehensive model of survivorship care supported by the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute, recommends a baseline assessment (near the time of diagnosis) and ongoing surveillance and intervention of impairments that minimize the impact of cancer treatments. A significant gap in knowledge currently exists with regards to the effectiveness of employing the PSM.

The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of implementing the PSM on impairments and functional limitations in women diagnosed with breast cancer during the first six months of treatment. A randomized controlled trial will be applied to examine a total of 28 women diagnosed with stage I-III breast cancer who will receive a mastectomy at Prisma Health in Columbia, S.C. Women will be randomized to one of two groups: PSM or usual care.


The overall objective of this study is to examine the impact of employing early rehabilitation by implementing a randomized controlled trial at Prisma Health Midlands on women diagnosed with stage I-III breast cancer who will receive a mastectomy.

The following outcomes will be collected at 3-time points (baseline, 3 months and 6 months post-surgery)

  • Objective measures: Upper extremity active range of motion, upper extremity, strength, physical function, and arm volume
  • Patient reported (questionnaire) measures: Upper extremity function, functional mobility, balance, health-related quality f life, pain, fatigue, falls and distress.

The patient reported measures will also be collected electronically 24 hours after each of the 3 assessments (baseline, 3 months and 6 months post-surgery)

Each of the 3 study visits will last ~60 minutes.

If you are randomized into the intervention group, you will receive ~10 treatment visits with a licensed physical therapist. Scheduling will be at your convenience and based on what the physical therapist recommends. Those in the intervention group will receive individualized physical therapy treatments based on impairments identified. Treatment may include but is not limited to the following: passive, assisted and active ROM, manual therapy, soft tissue massage, myofascial release, therapeutic activities and exercise and patient education. Treatment duration and frequency will be specific to each patient, providing personalized care. Physical therapy intervention will occur 1-2x/week for 3-6 weeks beginning ~4 weeks after surgery (x=10 visits). Each visit will last ~60 minutes in duration.

The usual care groups will be instructed to continue with their typical daily activities.

All study participants will receive a handout containing education and home exercise instruction which is considered routine care.

Participants will receive a $25 gift card gift card for each completed in person assessment (baseline, 3 and 6 months post surgery) for a total of $75.

Condition Breast Cancer, Breast Cancer
Treatment Physical therapy
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04777786
SponsorUniversity of South Carolina
Last Modified on10 May 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Eligible participants include adult female patients, 18 years of age, with a primary first-time diagnosis of breast cancer, and referred on or after January 1, 2021 for mastectomy surgery

Exclusion Criteria

Women will be excluded if they will have bilateral surgery, breast-conserving surgery, recurrence of breast cancer, stage IV, or neoadjuvant treatment prior to surgery
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