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Effectiveness of myofascial release after breast cancer surgery in women undergoing conservative surgery and radiotherapy: a randomized controlled trial



The scars derived from the treatment of breast cancer lead to adverse effects such as fibrosis or retractions of the connective tissue. Myofascial release (MR) seeks to reduce restrictions of the fascial system. Therefore, the aim of this study was to analyze the clinical impact of MR treatment on women survivors of breast cancer.


We enrolled 24 women with breast cancer, 13 received myofascial release treatment (MR) and 11, a placebo manual lymphatic drainage treatment (PMLD). Both interventions were administered over a period of 4 weeks. The outcomes studied were pain, shoulder range of motion (ROM), functionality, quality of life (QoL), and depression, immediately after treatment and 1 month later.


After 4 weeks of treatment, only the participants who received MR experienced a significant decrease in pain intensity in the short and midterm (p < 0.05). This therapy also achieved a general improvement in ROM (p < 0.05), except for internal rotation, that persisted 1 month after treatment. Regarding functionality, both therapies achieved the level of significance (p < 0.05), but only MRG sustained the improvement in the midterm. General QoL, assessed with FACT-B, and its physical well-being dimension were significantly improved after MR implementation (p < 0.05), while the emotional dimension and the breast cancer subscale improved only with PMLD (p < 0.05).


In conclusion, an MR-based treatment shows physical benefits (i.e., overall shoulder movement, functionality, and perceived pain) in women after breast cancer surgery.

Trial registration

This study is registered on NCT03182881.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gemma Victoria Espí-López.

Ethics declarations

All procedures were conducted in accordance with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki of the World Medical Association, and were approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of the University of Valencia with protocol number H1442824702282. Written informed consent was obtained from the participants before the trials started

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest, personally or related to funding.

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Serra-Añó, P., Inglés, M., Bou-Catalá, C. et al. Effectiveness of myofascial release after breast cancer surgery in women undergoing conservative surgery and radiotherapy: a randomized controlled trial. Support Care Cancer 27, 2633–2641 (2019).

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  • Breast cancer
  • Myofascial release
  • Range of motion
  • Quality of life