The impact of local therapies for breast cancer on shoulder muscle health and function

Joshua M. Leonardis, Tea Lulic-Kuryllo, David B. Lipps

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Advances in breast cancer treatment have improved patient survival but have also created complications, such as shoulder morbidity, impacting the patient's quality of life. Local therapies for breast cancer influence shoulder muscle health through changes to the muscular microenvironment, macroscopic muscle morphology, and neuromuscular function. Our findings suggest both surgery and radiation therapy compromise the healthy functioning of shoulder musculature. Mastectomy and post-mastectomy breast reconstruction directly affect shoulder function through muscle morphology and neuromuscular function alterations. Radiation therapy damages satellite cells and myocytes, causing cell death both during treatment and years after recovery. This damage creates an environment limited in its ability to prevent atrophy. However, research to date is limited to a small number of analyses with small experimental populations and a lack of control for covariates. Future research to uncover the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying shoulder morbidity after breast cancer treatment must integrate measures of shoulder muscle health and shoulder function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103759
JournalCritical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology
StatePublished - Sep 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast reconstruction
  • Joint function
  • Muscle function
  • Neuromuscular system
  • Radiation therapy
  • Shoulder morbidity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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