SAN ANTONIO, TX (December 6, 2012)Women are more likely to follow experts' advice on how to reduce their risk of an important side effect of breast cancer surgerylike lymphedemaif they feel confident in their abilities and know how to manage stress, according to new research from Fox Chase Cancer Center to be presented at the 2012 CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium on Saturday, December 8, 2012.
These findings suggest that clinicians must do more than just inform women of the ways they should change their behavior, says Suzanne M. Miller, PhD, Professor and Director of the Psychosocial and Biobehavioral Medicine Program at Fox Chase and study author. Doctors and nurses should also provide strategies for women who feel less empowered to make those changes, and have fewer skills for reducing their stress.
"Women are in charge of their future, because there are things they can do to minimize the effects of treatment," says Miller. "If they get into a routine of doing them, it will reduce their stress and vulnerability."
The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, focused on the side effect of surgery known as lymphedemaan incurable build up of fluid in the lymph nodes that can cause swelling and affect range of motion. In more severe cases, it can be quite painful. The rate of lymphedema can vary, but a significant proportionperhaps as many as halfof women will develop it after undergoing surgery to remove breast cancer.
"Lymphedema affects everything you do, whether you're inside washing dishes, or outside trying to pick up a bag of groceries, your child, or your briefcase," says Miller. "It's a very salient condition."
There is no treatment for lymphedema, so the best thing women can do is try to reduce their risk of developing it in the first place, says Miller. Avoiding infections, burns, muscle strain, constrictions of their arms, and weight gain can help.
"That advice may sound easy
|Contact: Diana Quattrone|
Fox Chase Cancer Center