The many women with breast cancer who underwent axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) suffer from the upper arm dysfunction. In this study, we investigated the effectiveness of a perioperative educational program for improving upper arm dysfunction in breast cancer patients following ALND. This study was a sub-analysis of a previous controlled trial with an educational program. The subjects of this analysis included 64 patients following ALND who completed measurements at 12 months. The perioperative educational program consisted of monitoring of arm dysfunction, exercises, massage, and lifestyle adjustments. The intervention group (37 patients) received this perioperative educational program over 12 months, while 27 patients in the control group received written information about shoulder exercise from on-site staff only before surgery. Primary outcomes were shoulder range of motion (ROM), arm girth, and grip strength. Secondary outcomes were evaluated with the Subjective Perception of Post-Operative Functional Impairment of the Arm (SPOFIA) scores, the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) scores, and the Medical Outcome Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey v2 (SF-36v2). The SF-36v2 measures health-related quality of life (QOL). Primary and secondary outcomes were compared between groups at 1 week (after drainage tube removal) and 12 months after surgery, using the Mann-Whitney U test. The horizontal extension was significantly improved only in the intervention group. Moreover, the SPOFIA score was significantly improved in the intervention group, and other scores of the secondary outcomes were similar between the two groups. The perioperative educational program may improve postoperative upper arm dysfunction and symptoms.
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