Background: Previous studies on effects of rehabilitation programmes for women with breast cancer are rare, but promising. This study aimed to examine the physical and psychological conditions for these patients before and after a rehabilitation programme at Red Cross Haugland Rehabilitation Centre in Norway.
Material and methods: Included in the study were a total of 50 women, aged 31-66 (mean 49) years, who had undergone surgical treatment, chemotherapy and radiation therapy for cancer mammae stage 1 and 2 (limited to the breast only or spread to the axillary lymph nodes, respectively). They received a three-week rehabilitation programme, followed by a three-month period at home and a one-week follow-up at the rehabilitation centre. Examinations of physical and psychological status were performed before and after the three-week stay and at follow-up.
Results: Maximum oxygen uptake increased from 67% to 77% of predicted value, the mental status and subjective rating of life quality improved, the physical activity level increased, and 36 out of 46 subjects returned to their jobs during the three-month follow-up. The women themselves reported subjective positive effects of participating in the programme.
Interpretation: Although the present study was non-controlled, the positive results were so promising that further controlled studies should be encouraged, as well as rehabilitation programmes for women with breast cancer.