The Pulling Through Study

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.

Funding / Grants

  • National Breast Cancer Foundation Postdoctoral Training Fellowship


  • , &  (2010) Prevalence of upper-body symptoms following breast cancer and its relationship with upper-body function and lymphedema. Lymphology43(4), pp. 178-187.
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  • DiSipio, Tracey, &  (2010) Upper-body morbidity following breast cancer treatment is common, may persist to longer-term and adversely influences quality of life. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes8(92), pp. 1-7.
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  • Aitken, Joanne, &  (2010) Does quality of life among breast cancer survivors one year after diagnosis differ depending on urban and non-urban residence? A comparative study. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes8, pp. 1-10.
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  • , &  (2010) Age-related differences in exercise and quality of life among breast cancer survivors. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise42(1), pp. 67-74.
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  • , &  (2009) Level of physical activity and characteristics associated with change following breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Psycho-Oncology18(4), pp. 387-394.
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  • Hayes SC, Janda M, Cornish B, Battistutta D, Newman B. (2008) Lymphoedema following breast cancer: incidence, risk factors and effect on upper body function. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 26(21): 3536-3542..
  • , &  (2005) Comparison of Methods to Diagnose Lymphoedema Among Breast Cancer Survivors: 6-Month follow-up. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment89(3), pp. 221-226.
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  • Hayes SC, Janda M, Cornish B, Battistutta D, Newman B. (2008) Lymphoedema secondary to breast cancer: how choice of measure influences diagnosis, prevalence and identifiable risk factors. Lymphology, 41(1): 18-28.
  • Round T, Hayes S, Newman B (2006) How do recovery advice and behavioural characteristics influence upper-body function and quality of life among women six months following breast cancer diagnosis?. Supportive Care in Cancer, 14(1): 22-29.
  • Hayes S, Battistutta D, Newman B. (2005) Objective and subjective upper-body function six months following diagnosis of breast cancer. 94(1): 1-10.