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How women can improve their quality of life after breast cancer treatment
Date:11/6/2008

This release is available in German.

Opting for less damaging treatments, staying active and learning about the warning signs of lymphedema: that's how women with breast cancer can avoid developing chronic lymphedema, according to the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). Women can learn more about how to protect themselves from this common and distressing adverse effect of treatment as well as handle the condition at the Institute's website, www.informedhealthonline.org.

Protecting women's lymph systems

Breast cancer treatment is becoming more effective, with a survival rate of more than 80% for this disease in Germany. As the survival rate goes up, quality of life for survivors assumes even more importance, according to the German Institute. Lymphedema is an adverse effect of breast cancer treatment caused by damage to the lymph system. When the lymph system cannot properly remove fluids from around the breast and arm, the fluid gathers and the arm swells. This causes pain and restricts movement. It could become a chronic problem that is hard to treat.

The more aggressive breast cancer treatment is, the higher the risk of lymphedema. Researchers estimate around 400,000 women in Germany alone have lymphoedema caused by breast cancer treatment.

"Even with many women having less aggressive breast cancer treatments, around 10 to 20% will develop lymphedema," according to Professor Peter Sawicki, the Institute's Director. "We doctors still underestimate the impact on patients' quality of life of treatment adverse effects like lymphedema. The first step to prevention is using therapies that limit the damage to the woman's lymph system."

Better quality of life after breast cancer

The second step to better quality of
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Contact: Hilda Bastian
information@iqwig.de
Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care
Source:Eurekalert

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