Arm morbidity within a trial of mastectomy and either nodal sample with selective radiotherapy or axillary clearance
Article first published online: 6 DEC 2005
Copyright © 1989 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd.
British Journal of Surgery
Volume 76, Issue 6, pages 568–571, June 1989
How to Cite
Aitken, R. J., Gaze, M. N., Rodger, A., Chetty, U. and Forrest, A. P. M. (1989), Arm morbidity within a trial of mastectomy and either nodal sample with selective radiotherapy or axillary clearance. Br J Surg, 76: 568–571. doi: 10.1002/bjs.1800760613
- Issue published online: 6 DEC 2005
- Article first published online: 6 DEC 2005
- Manuscript Accepted: 5 JAN 1989
- Medical Research Council. Grant Number: PG 7901641
- Breast neoplasia;
The aim of this study was to assess upper limb morbidity following treatment for operable breast cancer. Patients were randomized to either mastectomy and axillary clearance (40 women: 12 with axillary nodal metastasis and 28 without axillary metastasis) or mastectomy and axillary sampling (54 women). Adjuvant radiotherapy was delivered to those in whom the sample revealed axillary nodal metastasis (28 women) but not to those with no axillary nodal metastasis (26 women). A subjective assessment of the state of the arm was made using a standard questionnaire. Objective assessment included upper and forearm circumference, shoulder joint mobility and assessment of power in the pectoralis muscle. The mean age was 56·8 years (range 33–77 years) and the mean elapsed time from treatment was 5·72 years (range 4·0–7·5 years). Subjective limb oedema was greatest in those who had axillary lymph node metastasis but there was no objective difference. Subjective joint mobility was reduced in the women who received radiotherapy and this was confirmed by objective assessment (P<0·05). The objective reduction in arm mobility was related to the treatment rather than the axillary lymph node status. There was no difference in power. In this study women receiving adjuvant radiotherapy had significantly reduced shoulder mobility. This may have implications for current conservation studies using adjuvant radiotherapy.