The Pulling Through Study (PTS) was designed to advance our understanding of the physical and psychosocial recovery experienced by Australian breast cancer survivors.The PTS was a longitudinal, population-based study conducted between 2002 and 2003, that followed 287 women recently diagnosed with breast cancer in South-east Queensland. Women were recruited into the study 6-months following diagnosis and were assessed every three months for a 12-month period (ie, until 18 months post-diagnosis).
The study aimed to advance our knowledge relating to lymphoedema and upper-body functioning among breast cancer survivors by documenting the prevalence and severity of the problem over the medium term in Australian women. It encompased both physical and self-reported measurements and assessed changes over time to establish a pattern of typical recovery. In addition, the study aimed to go beyond measuring the patient’s physical capacity to highlight the impact on families, household organisation and employment issues. As a consequence, a more realistic appreciation of family labour time and home care costs was uncovered.
To date, the results of the study have been published in 12 journal articles. Together, the results of the study provide important data to help develop recommendations for optimising physical therapy in consultation with prevailing care. It is also anticipated that physicians will be able to recognise the importance of the functional consequences of treatment in terms of a patient’s physical capacity, daily demands and quality of life, potentially allowing greater patient involvement in surgical treatment options and post-operative care.