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Breast cancer, education, exercise, rehabilitation, survivor



  1. Reigle, Beverly S. PhD, RN


Background: Breast cancer survivors represent 23% of the 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States. Treatment-related morbidities such as adhesive capsulitis and lymphedema impact functional ability and quality of life. Postoperative exercises have been recommended for years. However, few studies exist that describe the postoperative rehabilitation experience of breast cancer survivors.


Purpose: The purpose of the study was to examine the rehabilitation experiences of women following breast cancer surgery.


Methodology: The study used a descriptive-correlational design. A convenience sample of 594 breast cancer survivors completed and returned a mailed questionnaire.


Findings: Results indicated that 61% reported that postoperative exercises were prescribed. Forty-eight percent reported performing the exercises as instructed. Performing exercises as instructed was significantly associated with increased functional ability (p < .0001).


Conclusion: Breast cancer survivors who perform postoperative rehabilitation exercises as instructed may improve functional ability.


Clinical Implication: Rehabilitation nurses can have an instrumental role in the postoperative rehabilitation care of this population.