Breast Cancer

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 140–146 | Cite as

Physical symptoms and components of labor tasks associated with upper limb disability among working breast cancer survivors

  • Natália de Souza CunhaEmail author
  • Kamilla Zomkowski
  • Bráulio Leal Fernandes
  • Cinara Sacomori
  • Adriana Coutinho de Azevedo Guimarães
  • Fabiana Flores Sperandio
Original Article



Each year, the number of breast cancer (BC) cases increases in Brazil and worldwide. In addition, BC affects women of working age who need to resume their jobs after treatments. This is an observational, cross-sectional study that investigated the association of physical symptoms and work tasks with upper limb disability and return to work in BC survivors.


Sociodemographic, labor, clinical and surgical aspects, and physical incapacity of the upper limbs of 62 women diagnosed with BC were evaluated through a questionnaire of our own and the disability of the arm, shoulder, and hand (DASH) questionnaire. The data were analyzed by the IBM Statistical Package for Social Sciences SPSS version 20.0 and a significance of p < 0.05 was adopted. Logistic regression and odds ratio were used to verify the level of association between work tasks and pain with return to work, and multiple linear regression verified the association of physical symptoms with upper limb functionality.


The work tasks associated with non-return to work were raising objects above the head (OR 3.64, 95% CI 1.26–10.51), lifting objects of more than 5 kg (OR 2.88, 95% CI 1.02–8.13), and loading objects of more than 5 kg (OR 3.93; 95% CI 1.14–10.07). The pain in the upper quadrant homologous to the surgery explained 64% of the variance in physical incapacity of the upper limbs.


There is an association of labor tasks that require upper limb strength and range of motion with non-return to work, and also pain in the upper quadrant homologous to the BC with reduction in the functionality of the upper limbs.


Breast neoplasms Return to work Rehabilitation Disability and health Upper extremity Pain measurement 



This study was financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento Pessoal de Nível Superior—Brazil (CAPES)—Finance Code 001.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research involving human participants

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This study approval was granted by the Ethics Committee from Santa Catarina State University, under Protocol number 50685415.4.0000.0118.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Breast Cancer Society 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Natália de Souza Cunha
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kamilla Zomkowski
    • 2
  • Bráulio Leal Fernandes
    • 3
  • Cinara Sacomori
    • 4
  • Adriana Coutinho de Azevedo Guimarães
    • 5
  • Fabiana Flores Sperandio
    • 1
  1. 1.Physical Therapy Department, College of Health and Sports Science-CEFIDSanta Catarina State University-UDESCFlorianópolisBrazil
  2. 2.Department of PhysiotherapyUniversidade do Sul de Santa Catarina - UnisulPalhoçaBrazil
  3. 3.Hospital Universitário Polydoro Ernani de São Thiago and Carmela Dutra MaternityFlorianópolisBrazil
  4. 4.Escuela de KinesiologíaUniversidad Bernardo O’Higgins (UBO)SantiagoChile
  5. 5.Physical Education Department, College of Health and Sports Science-CEFIDSanta Catarina State University-UDESCFlorianópolisBrazil

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