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M. D. Anderson nurse addresses lymphedema in breast cancer patients and survivors
Date:5/17/2008

ema included early identification of at-risk patients through enhanced assessment techniques, monitoring, standardizing at-risk assessment tools and increased awareness of lymphedema through educational efforts of the health care team. The studies noted that increased awareness through educational forums, patient-nurse learning modules, and increasing the number of research studies focusing on ULE are vital in addressing this problem.

McDowell, who is dedicated to the study, prevention and management of ULE after a breast cancer patient died from significant disease progression, complicated by advanced, unmanageable lymphedema, said, "This research is centered on what is important to the patient and their quality of life after treatment. Nurses are on the frontline and may hold the key in proactively preventing lymphedema in many patients by educating them about triggers and symptoms, continual and specific lymphedema assessments during each visit and pursuing research in this area."

At M. D. Anderson, nurses and patient care teams have implemented several strategies to educate breast cancer patients about lymphedema and treat it aggressively. One such strategy is having a nurse and physician present information via discussion and prepared handouts before women undergo surgery. Additionally, all women are assessed for lymphedema during treatment and at follow-up visits. M. D. Anderson's multidisciplinary care team also offers comprehensive support and collaboration from prevention of the sequelae to advanced physical therapy for those with lymphedema.

McDowell plans to develop further research studies examining the evidenced-based practices for ULE identified in this study, with the end-goal of developing a standard set of recommendations. More information on the causes and symptoms of lymphedema, risk reduction strategies and recommended treatment are provided online at M. D. Anderson's Rehabilitation Services Lymphedema homepage or by
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Contact: Julie A. Penne
jpenne@mdanderson.org
281-460-1788
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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