Lymphedema therapy reduces arm swelling

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Lymphedema therapy reduces arm swelling

Postby patoco » Fri Jun 22, 2007 8:02 am

Lymphedema therapy reduces the volume of edema and pain in patients with breast cancer.

Ann Surg Oncol. 2007 Jun

Hamner JB, Fleming MD.
Department of Surgery, University of Tennessee Health Sciences
Center, 956 Court Avenue, Room G228, Memphis, Tennessee, 38163,

BACKGROUND: Despite recent advances in breast-conserving surgery,
upper-extremity lymphedema remains a problem for patients after the
treatment of breast cancer. This study examines the results of a
protocol of therapy for lymphedema in breast cancer patients.

METHODS: A total of 135 patients with lymphedema after breast cancer
treatment were provided a protocol of complete decongestive therapy
(CDT). This involved manual lymphatic drainage, compression garments,
skin care, and range-of-motion exercises. Therapy was divided into an
induction phase involving twice-weekly therapy for 8 weeks and
maintenance therapy individualized to patient needs. Absolute volume
and percentage of volume of lymphedema was compared before and after treatment. Also assessed was the degree of chronic pain and the need for pain medication.

RESULTS: Mean initial lymphedema volume was 709 mL, and the
percentage of lymphedema was 31%. The induction phase of CDT reduced this to 473 mL and 18%, respectively. Before therapy, 76 patients had chronic pain and 41 required oral pain medication. CDT reduced this to 20 and 11, respectively. The degree of pain was also assessed on a numerical scale from 0 to 10. Those patients with chronic pain initially rated their pain at an average of 6.9. After treatment, this
was reduced to 1.1.

CONCLUSIONS: Lymphedema continues to be a problem for patients with
breast cancer. A program of lymphedema therapy can reduce the volume
of edema and reduce pain in this population.


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