Postlymphadenectomy complications and quality of life among breast cancer patients in Brazil

Carolina Rodrigues Paim, Elenice Dias Ribeiro De Paula Lima, Mei R. Fu, Alexandre De Paula Lima, Geovanni Dantas Cassali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This descriptive, cross-sectional, correlational study with a convenience sample of 96 women treated for breast cancer at an outpatient service in Brazil was designed to investigate postlymphadenectomy complications after axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) and sentinel lymph node biopsy and explore the associative relationships between the complications and quality of life. Clinical evaluations using perimetry, goniometry, and muscle strength test were used to evaluate the complications. Pain and quality of life were assessed by the Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire and the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast. All participants had at least one complication. Incidence was higher for pain (57%), impaired shoulder strength (57%), and fibrosis (54%), followed by impaired shoulder range of motion (46%) and lymphedema (17%). The incidence of impaired shoulder flexion (P ≤ .01) and lymphedema (P ≤ .002) was higher in ALND group. Winged scapula (8.4%) only occurred in the ALND group. Quality of life was significantly correlated with pain (r ≤ ĝ̂'0.53, P ≤ .000) and impaired shoulder strength in flexion (r ≤ 0.4; P ≤ .000) and abduction (r ≤ ĝ̂'0.5, P ≤ .000). Future studies are needed to prospectively investigate the onset of the complications and identify appropriate interventions to promote quality of life in women treated for breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)302-309
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • Axillary lymph node dissection
  • Breast cancer
  • Complications
  • Lymphadenectomy
  • Lymphedema
  • Pain
  • Quality of life
  • Sentinel lymph node biopsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)


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