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Cancer. 2019 Mar 15;125(6):854-862. doi: 10.1002/cncr.31873. Epub 2018 Dec 6.

Early surveillance is associated with less incidence and severity of breast cancer-related lymphedema compared with a traditional referral model of care.

Author information

1
Australian Lymphoedema Education, Research and Treatment (ALERT) Program, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
2
Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.
3
Department of Health Professions, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS) has enabled the early identification of breast cancer-related lymphedema. In this study, differences in health service metrics and in the incidence of breast cancer-related lymphedema are evaluated in an early surveillance model of care compared with a traditional referral model of care.

METHODS:

In a retrospective analysis of data from 753 women who underwent BIS measures between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2016, 188 women were assigned to the "early surveillance" group if they began lymphedema monitoring presurgery (n = 121) or within 90 days postsurgery (n = 67), and 285 women were assigned to the "traditional referral" group if they began monitoring after 90 days postsurgery. Health service metrics were calculated as the time to the first BIS measure after 90 days postsurgery, the median follow-up, and the number of health care visits. Lymphedema was diagnosed based on BIS measures.

RESULTS:

Women in the early surveillance group received lymphedema care significantly earlier than those in the traditional referral group. However, there was no difference in the number of visits per year to the clinic between groups. Significantly more women in the traditional referral group were diagnosed with clinical lymphedema (stage I-III, 39 % vs 14%; P < .001) and with greater severity (stage II-III, 24%) compared with those in the early surveillance group (4%).

CONCLUSIONS:

The current findings support the adoption of an early prospective surveillance model of care using BIS for the early detection and management of breast cancer-related lymphedema.

KEYWORDS:

bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS); breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL); lymphedema; prospective surveillance; screening

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