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Lymphology. 2009 Dec;42(4):161-75.

Minimal limb volume change has a significant impact on breast cancer survivors.

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  • 1Department of Surgical Oncology, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77230-1402, USA.


We sought to define the incidence, risk factors, symptoms, and quality of life (QOL) outcomes associated with various degrees of postoperative limb volume change (LVC). A prospective cohort study was performed obtaining serial limb volume measurements using a perometer on 269 women undergoing surgery for breast cancer. Four groups were created based on maximum LVC: none < 5.0%, mild 5.0-9.9%, moderate 10.0-14.9%, and severe 15.0%. Symptoms and QOL were assessed. 81 (30.1%), 70 (26.0%), and 14 (5.2%) women developed mild, moderate, and severe LVC, respectively. Increases in body mass index (p < 0.001) and post-operative complications (p = 0.002) were associated with increasing LVC. Lower QOL scores were associated with a moderate LVC (OR = 3.72, 95% CI, 1.29-10.73, p = 0.015) and postoperative infections (OR = 5.04, 95% CI, 1.73-14.70, p = 0.003). LVC at 5.0% occurs in up to 61.3% of breast cancer survivors and is associated with a significant increase in symptoms and a change in reported quality of life.

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