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Oncol Nurs Forum. 1999 Jul;26(6):1047-53.

Lymphedema prevention and management knowledge in women treated for breast cancer.

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  • 1School of Nursing, University of Texas at Austin, USA.

Abstract

PURPOSE/OBJECTIVES:

To describe what women treated for breast cancer know about upper extremity lymphedema, what they recall being told to help prevent lymphedema, what preventive strategies they used, and, if lymphedema occurred, factors related to its occurrence and strategies they used to manage it.

DESIGN:

Descriptive, correlational survey.

SETTING:

Survivor-established Breast Cancer Resource Center.

SAMPLE:

72 women with breast cancer who returned a mailed questionnaire that was enclosed with a quarterly newsletter.

METHODS:

A survey instrument, the Lymphedema Knowledge Scale, developed from National-Lymphedema Network guidelines to prevent upper extremity lymphedema. Data that was analyzed using descriptive statistics, chi square, and t-tests.

MAIN RESEARCH VARIABLES:

Lymphedema knowledge, lymphedema occurrence, and lymphedema prevention and management strategies.

FINDINGS:

Although many respondents were aware of their risk for lymphedema, their knowledge and use of prevention strategies were poor. Most knowledge was obtained from surgeons, reading materials, and breast cancer survivors. Occurrence of lymphedema was significantly associated only with radiation therapy to breast and axilla and use of any prevention strategy. The 27 women experiencing lymphedema used several management strategies to control the condition.

CONCLUSIONS:

The few women who had knowledge of most of the recommended guidelines for lymphedema prevention and management did not recall nurses as resources. Research in a larger sample is needed to better examine the association between preventive practices and lymphedema occurrence.

IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE:

Nurses could do more to inform patients before and during breast cancer treatment about their risk for lymphedema and the need for prompt diagnosis and treatment of the condition. Until strategies for lymphedema prevention are researched further, nurses should be cautious in counseling about lymphedema prevention.

PMID:
10420422
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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