Patients' sensations after breast cancer surgery. A pilot study

Cancer Pract. 2000 Sep-Oct;8(5):215-22. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-5394.2000.85005.x.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to obtain information about the prevalence and characteristics of breast sensations after breast cancer surgery, the impact they had on patients, and aggravating and relieving factors.

Description of study: Within 1 month after the date of their surgery, 132 patients with breast cancer completed an instrument rating the prevalence, severity, and level of distress of breast sensations. Information also was obtained on the impact that those sensations had on activities of daily living and factors that triggered and provided relief from sensations.

Results: Certain sensations remain prevalent (numb, tender), severe (burning, sharp), and distressing (cramping, painful). Overall these sensations significantly interfered with patients' activities of daily living. Certain activities (movement, position change) triggered sensations, while others (position change, medication) provided relief.

Clinical implications: Healthcare professionals can use the information learned from this pilot study to educate patients both preoperatively and postoperatively about prevalent breast sensations after surgery for breast cancer and about the types of activities that may aggravate or relieve these sensations. As patient educators and advocates, oncology professionals must continue to explore the long-term effects and treatment options to provide optimal care and support to patients who have or are likely to have post-surgical breast sensations. More studies are needed to explore long-term effects and treatment options.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mastectomy / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensation Disorders / classification
  • Sensation Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sensation Disorders / etiology*
  • Sensation Disorders / prevention & control
  • Sensation Disorders / psychology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires