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Papers of the Week

2019 Nov

J Midwifery Womens Health



Long-Term Effects of Breast Cancer Surgery, Treatment, and Survivor Care.


Lovelace DL, McDaniel LR, Golden D
J Midwifery Womens Health. 2019 Nov; 64(6):713-724.
PMID: 31322834.


Women are increasingly surviving breast cancer, but up to 90% experience unexpected long-term sequelae as a result of treatment. Symptoms may include physical, functional, emotional, and psychosocial changes that can dramatically alter the quality of life for breast cancer survivors. Primary care clinicians, including midwives, are likely to care for these women and should be familiar with common symptoms, treatment, and best practices to avoid permanent dysfunction. A holistic approach to assessment, treatment, and referral as needed is the most effective strategy. Although women experience significant changes after breast cancer treatment, many fail to receive thorough assessment of their symptoms, education about interventions, and treatment options to optimize health promoting strategies. Disparities exist in treatment availability, options, and survivorship. Long-term physical changes include anatomic changes, chronic pain, phantom breast pain, axillary web syndrome, and lymphedema. In addition, women may have decreased strength, aerobic capacity, mobility, fatigue, and cognitive dysfunction. Emotional and psychosocial changes include depression, anxiety, fatigue, concerns about body image, and issues with sexuality. Treatment should be multifactorial based on thorough assessment of symptoms and can include medication, exercise, counseling, physical and occupational therapy, and alternative and complementary therapies. Primary care and gynecologic clinicians are well positioned to provide thorough evaluation, education, treatment, and referral for the most common sequelae of mastectomy and breast cancer treatments.