VIDEO: Breast Cancer and Common Side Effects

Clinical Expertise

Apr 19, 2021

Medical Reviewer: Jillian Miller, PT, DPT
Last Updated: January 13, 2023

Video Transcript

In this video, I’ll be discussing some common treatments for breast cancer and some common side effects that we see in therapy after treatment.

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor will likely be deciding between a lumpectomy, mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy, or some combination of these.

In therapy after these treatments, we commonly see changes in range of motion or reduced range of motion in one or both shoulders, and changes in posture. Frequently, these changes in the position of the shoulder will put pressure on the rotator cuff and put it at risk of injury. injury to the rotator cuff takes a long time to heal. It’s a painful condition and it likely reduces people’s ability to lift and raise the arm.

We also will see axillary cording, also known as axillary webbing, which after injury to the lymphatic system, tissues will become adhered or kind of glued down around the brachial plexus which is a group of nerves and arteries exiting the cervical spine going to the arm. Sometimes you’ll be able to see an actual cord from the surface between the elbow and the shoulder and sometimes you won’t.

In early stages, you’ll feel some discomfort, numbness or tingling, tenderness in this area and that can be a sign that it’s developing.

We also see lymphedema, which is a swelling of the entire arm and hand, again, resulting from injury to the lymphatic system. Fortunately, there are some easy and safe things that you can do after breast cancer treatment and before breast cancer treatment, that can either prevent these conditions from starting in the first place or greatly reduce their severity.

Please see the rest of the videos in this series for those exercises.

For more healthy living tips, visit our YouTube Playlist.

Medical Reviewer

Jillian Miller, PT, DPT

Physical Therapist, Women's Health Resident - Brooks Rehabilitation Ormond Beach Outpatient Clinic
Jillian Miller is a Physical Therapist at the Brooks Halifax, Ormond Beach clinic. She received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of St. Augustine and is originally from Ormond Beach. She has practiced as a Physical Therapist with Brooks Rehabilitation for more than three years treating a variety of pelvic health, oncological, neurological and orthopedic conditions. Her passion is working with individuals faced with pelvic health conditions such as urinary or fecal incontinence, chronic pelvic pain, and sexual dysfunction as well as lymphedema. As a Women's Health Resident, Miller is advancing her education and is currently seeking a Board Certification in Women's Health.
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