PHILADELPHIA - A poster session presented today by The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center at the Oncology Nurses Society 33rd Annual Congress, found that early nursing intervention and implementation of effective strategies can lead to a decrease in the incidence of lymphedema, better management of chronic lymphedema and improved quality of life in breast cancer patients.
The literature review, led by Mattie J. Sennett McDowell, RN, BSN, a research nurse in the Department of Breast Medical Oncology at M. D. Anderson, examined 20 years of data about the prevention, management and care of upper extremity lymphedema (ULE), or lymphedema that occurs in the arms, in breast cancer patients. The goal of the review was to identify a comprehensive list of current evidenced-based strategies that nurses and hospitals can use in caring for their patients.
"Women are living longer as breast cancer treatments get better, but at the same time, they face more devastating side effects like lymphedema," McDowell said. "So many women present with the symptoms, yet it is understudied and not well understood. More can to be done to proactively recognize and address lymphedema in breast cancer patients."
ULE is an often a distressing and debilitating side effect of breast cancer treatment in which protein-rich fluid in the tissue of the arms accumulates and obstructs the lymph vessels. According to the National Lymphedema Network, approximately 15 to 20 percent of all breast cancer patients are affected by ULE. Its development can be triggered by breast cancer diagnostic procedures, radiation, surgery or environmental factors. It also can can occur immediately after treatment or many years down the road. ULE, which can make simple tasks such as picking up children, getting dressed or exercising painful, has a detrimental impact on the patient's quality of life.
According to the literature, effective strategies to address lymphed
|Contact: Julie A. Penne|
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center