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Features, Predictors, and Treatment of Breast Cancer–Related Lymphedema

Abstract

Purpose of Review

Breast cancer–related lymphedema (BCRL) is a common sequelae among breast cancer survivors. This review provides updated information on recent studies to prevent, diagnose, and actively treat women with BCRL.

Recent Findings

In total, 63 articles were identified from 2015 and 2020 that assessed incidence, risk factors, surveillance, measurement and definition, treatment, and awareness of BCRL. Depending on the approach and timing of assessment, BCRL incidence rates ranged from 9.1 to 39%. Modified radical mastectomy, number of positive lymph nodes, and postoperative complications were linked to BCRL risk, in addition to chemotherapy, radiation, axillary lymph node dissection, advanced cancer stage, and higher body mass index. Early detection showed favorable BCRL outcomes (e.g., severity, symptoms). Exercise, self-management, complete decongestive therapy, bandaging, and surgery had positive effects on BCRL outcomes.

Summary

Numerous gaps exist within BCRL literature, such as the value of self-reported surveillance options to identify BCRL early, measurement strategies, and definitions of BCRL. In terms of policies, efforts are needed to educate providers, patients, payers, and legislators about the need for consensus to reduce the burden of BCRL in women being treated for breast cancer.

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Funding

This study is funded by an award from The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

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Correspondence to Electra D. Paskett.

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Conflict of Interest

Electra Paskett reports grants from Breast Cancer Research Foundation, grants from NIH, during the conduct of the study; grants from Merck Foundation, grants from Pfizer, grants from Komen Columbus Foundation, grants from Ohio Department of Health, other from FoxConn, grants from Social Impact Fund, grants from Komen Foundation, and grants from PICORI, outside the submitted work.

Jill Oliveri and Xiaochen Zhang declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Zhang, X., Oliveri, J.M. & Paskett, E.D. Features, Predictors, and Treatment of Breast Cancer–Related Lymphedema. Curr Breast Cancer Rep 12, 244–254 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12609-020-00381-0

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Keywords

  • Breast cancer–related lymphedema
  • Survivorship
  • Surveillance
  • Symptoms
  • Quality of life