Occupational Therapy Practice Guidelines for Post-Surgical Breast Cancer Survivors
Cancer continues to grow at an alarming rate globally and in the United States. Breast cancer is one of the leading cancer diagnoses in women, and surgery is a common treatment option for breast cancer. Breast surgery leads to numerous challenges with a unique set of complications affecting breast cancer survivors’ functional abilities and quality of life (QoL). To effectively address these unique set of complications, cancer rehabilitation professionals, including occupational therapy (OT) practitioners, need to have specific training, advanced skills, and clinical judgment in the field of oncology rehabilitation. This paper addresses the need for population-specific OT clinical practice guidelines (CPGs), as a resource to OT practitioners, with recommendations on evidence-based assessments and interventions to holistically address the physical, psychosocial, spiritual, and functional needs of this population. The Occupational Therapy Practice Guidelines for Post-Surgical Breast Cancer Survivors were developed after completing a thorough needs assessment, communication with the interdisciplinary oncology team, an intensive review of current research on the efficacy of assessments and interventions within the scope of OT, and the application of OT theory to practice guidelines. The CPGs provide recommendations on completing a comprehensive assessment, guidance on interventions to address symptom management, and a list of recommended upper extremity exercises for the OT practitioner while working with this population. The CPGs were implemented with a one-person case study with outcomes indicating that the CPGs may be effective at increasing functional abilities and maximizing QoL for individuals after surgical intervention for breast cancer.