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Breast. 2019 Apr;44:15-23. doi: 10.1016/j.breast.2018.12.009. Epub 2018 Dec 17.

Tackling the diversity of breast cancer related lymphedema: Perspectives on diagnosis, risk assessment, and clinical management.

Author information

1
Division of Medical Oncology, Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda, Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Milan, Italy.
2
Physical and Rehabilitative Medicine, Department of Health Sciences, University of Eastern Piedmont "A. Avogadro", Novara, Italy.
3
Division of Pathology, Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda, Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Milan, Italy; School of Pathology, Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda, Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Milan, Italy.
4
Division of Pathology, Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda, Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Milan, Italy; Department of Biomedical, Surgical and Dental Sciences, University of Milan, Italy. Electronic address: nicola.fusco@unimi.it.

Abstract

Breast cancer related lymphedema (BCRL) develops as a consequence of surgical treatment and/or radiation therapy in a significant number of breast cancer patients. The etiology of this condition is multifactorial and has not yet been completely elucidated. Risk factors include high body mass index, radical surgical procedures (i.e. mastectomy and axillary lymph node dissection), number of lymph nodes removed and number of metastatic lymph nodes, as well as nodal radiation, and chemotherapy. However, these predisposing factors explain only partially the BCRL occurrence, suggesting the possible involvement of individual determinants. Despite the implementation of conservative approaches, BCRL still remains in a proportion of cases an incurable and progressive condition with major physical and psychological implications. To date, diagnostic methods and staging systems lack uniformity, leading to a possible underestimation of the real incidence of this condition, decreasing early detection and thus the possibility of an effective treatment. Several preventive and therapeutic options are available, both conservative and surgical, but are not included in a standardized intervention protocol, tailored on patient's specific characteristics. In this review, we provide a comprehensive overview of the current state-of-knowledge of BCRL management, novel advantages in the assessment of pre-operative evaluation and risk prediction and discuss strengths and weaknesses of diagnostic and treatment strategies currently accessible in clinical practice.

KEYWORDS:

Axillary lymph nodes dissection; Breast cancer; Breast cancer related lymphedema; Complications; Radiation therapy

PMID:
30580170
DOI:
10.1016/j.breast.2018.12.009
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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