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MU study identifies patient strategies for managing symptoms of lymphedema
Date:10/29/2008

ategies typically recommended by physicians, including manual lymphatic drainage, compression garments and elevation. Patients use these techniques most often, or 47 percent of the time. The second group was pharmaceutical treatments including the use of medications both prescription (antibiotics) and over-the-counter (pain medication and cortisone cream). The final group was lay symptom management techniques, strategies not necessarily recommended by health care professionals but common sense, folk, complementary or alternative methods.

According to Armer, patients increasingly are using lay therapies, but less than 40 percent report discussing their use of complementary therapies with a doctor. Previous research has found these unconventional therapies are generally not taught at medical schools or are unavailable at most hospitals.

"While lay symptom management is undoubtedly an important form of health care, the discrepancy between the use of self-care treatments and doctor-recommended treatments for lymphedema must be addressed," Armer said. "It's important for health care professionals to recognize the scope and diversity of practices that breast cancer survivors choose when managing their symptoms. Continued research of this issue can help develop effective management techniques to be incorporated into standards of practice for physicians and patients."

The Lymphedema Research Project at Ellis Fischel and Sinclair School of Nursing provides research opportunities for breast cancer survivors to participate in oncology nursing research. The studies are funded by the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. MU researchers maintain a database of participants for future studies; interested participants for breast cancer and/or lymphedema research may submit their contact information and will be contacted if they meet the criteria for current or new studies. Friends, family members and co-workers who have not had
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Contact: Emily Smith
SmithEA@missouri.edu
573-882-3346
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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