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Br J Surg. 2014 Mar;101(4):390-7. doi: 10.1002/bjs.9401.

Arm lymphoedema after axillary surgery in women with invasive breast cancer.

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1
Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery, Karolinska Institute and Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The primary aim was to compare arm lymphoedema after sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) alone versus axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) in women with node-negative and node-positive breast cancer. The secondary aim was to examine the potential association between self-reported and objectively measured arm lymphoedema.

METHODS:

Women who had surgery during 1999-2004 for invasive breast cancer in four centres in Sweden were included. The study groups were defined by the axillary procedure performed and the presence of axillary metastases: SLNB alone, ALND without axillary metastases, and ALND with axillary metastases. Before surgery, and 1, 2 and 3 years after operation, arm volume was measured and a questionnaire regarding symptoms of arm lymphoedema was completed. A mixed model was used to determine the adjusted mean difference in arm volume between the study groups, and generalized estimating equations were employed to determine differences in self-reported arm lymphoedema.

RESULTS:

One hundred and forty women had SLNB alone, 125 had node-negative ALND and 155 node-positive ALND. Women who underwent SLNB had no increase in postoperative arm volume over time, whereas both ALND groups showed a significant increase. The risk of self-reported arm lymphoedema 1, 2 and 3 years after surgery was significantly lower in the SLNB group compared with that in both ALND groups. Three years after surgery there was a significant association between increased arm volume and self-reported symptoms of arm lymphoedema.

CONCLUSION:

SLNB is associated with a minimal risk of increased arm volume and few symptoms of arm lymphoedema, significantly less than after ALND, regardless of lymph node status.

PMID:
24536010
DOI:
10.1002/bjs.9401
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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