“Moving On” After Breast Cancer: A Pilot Study

Research Category: Health Sciences
Presenter: Allison Koenig
PI: Ann Marie Flores

Purpose and Problem Statement

Survival of breast cancer is high and, as a result, more breast cancer survivors (BCS) are living with long term effects of treatment. Pre-operative physical therapy educational resources are absent from oncology standards of care. Our study aims to fill that gap.


We are currently recruiting BCS to this study (ntotal = 154) from Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  Our study protocol involves 3 visits over three months (pre-operative, 2 weeks, 3 months after surgery) during which we collect data on: shoulder range of motion (ROM), strength, lymphedema, and quality of life. Participants are randomly assigned to the intervention or control group after the first data collection session. Intervention participants complete to evaluate acceptability and feasibility of the intervention materials. We present our preliminary results thus far.  We analyze data using descriptive statistics and repeated measures ANOVA.


We have recruited 60 participants (n=30 control and intervention, respectively). Shoulder flexion, abduction and external rotation, deltoid and grip strength are significantly improved by the third month after surgery for the intervention group compared to the control group (p < .05).  More than 90% of intervention participants favorably rated the education materials and pre-surgical timing of intervention delivery.

Expected Outcomes

Once all data are collected, we will test our hypotheses that intervention participants have improved ROM, strength, and fewer signs and symptoms of lymphedema compared to controls. Our next step is to evaluate whether differences in knowledge about physical therapy outcomes after breast cancer exist between our groups.