Svetlana Lazar Popovic Petrovic, Aleksandra Kovac, Ivana Novakov, Milanka Tatic


Introduction. The most common functional complications after the treatment of breast cancer are reduction of range of motion in the shoulder joint (incidence of 10 to 73%), lymphedema of the arm (10-30%) and nerve damage of the arm or damage of brachial plexus (1.8-4.9%). Multiple complications rarely occur and they are usually of mild to moderate forms.

Case report. VV (woman), born in 1965 was exposed to quadrantectomy of the left breast with axillary dissection in 2003 (pathohystology: ductal carcinoma; 4 removed lymph nodes, 1 of which with a secondary deposit). After the surgical intervention, the patient underwent chemotherapy (CMF protocol VI cycles) and radiation therapy (50 Gy/12 cycles). Four months after the therapy completion, lymphedema of the left arm was developed, and few months later brachial plexus injury as well. First visit to physiatrist was five years  later, with a significant reduction of range of motion in the left arm and severe lymphedema (maximum difference to 7.5 cm). EMNG trial indicated a moderate lesion of left median nerve and ulnar nerve and mild to moderate lesion of left radial nerve injury; DASH score was 107. After repeated physical treatments (since 2009), the last control in October 2016 showed that the functional status was significantly improved: reduction of range of motion was present in flexion and abduction only, lymphedema was reduced (maximum difference of  5.5 cm);

DASH score was 48, while EMNG indicated  a lesion of  the median nerve and ulnar nerve in lower level, with signs of recovery.

Conclusion. The implementation of an early rehabilitation program for  the patients who were surgically treated for breast cancer is necessary in order to prevent functional complications and  to enable continuous monitoring of the patients, while in the case with already developed complications, physical therapy should be initiated regardless of the period in which the functional limitations occured.


breast cancer, functional complications, physical treatment

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