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Super micro-surgery offers new hope for breast cancer patients with lymphedema
Date:3/23/2009

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Breast cancer patients with lymphedema in their upper arm experienced reduced fluid in the swollen arm by up to 39 percent after undergoing a super-microsurgical technique known as lymphaticovenular bypass, report researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The results from the prospective analysis, presented today at the 88th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons, suggest another option for breast cancer patients considering ways to manage lymphedema, a common and debilitating condition following surgery and/or radiation therapy for breast cancer.

Lymphedema results when the lymph nodes are removed or blocked due to treatment and lymph fluid accumulates causing chronic swelling in the upper arm. Currently, there is no cure or preventive measure for lymphedema and it is difficult to manage; the use of compression bandages, massage and other forms of lymphatic therapy are commonly recommended options for patients. According to the National Cancer Institute, 25 to 30 percent of women who have breast cancer surgery with lymph node removal and radiation therapy develop lymphedema.

Researchers evaluated 20 breast cancer patients with stage II and III treatment-related lymphedema of the upper arm who underwent a lymphaticovenular bypass at M. D. Anderson from December 2005 to September 2008. Due to lymphedema, the patients' affected arm was an average of 34 percent larger compared to the unaffected arm prior to the surgery. Of these 20 patients, 19 reported initial significant clinical improvement following the procedure. In those patients with postoperative volumetric analysis measurements, total mean reduction in the volume differential at one month was 29 percent, at three months 33 percent, at six months 39 percent and 25 percent at one year.

"Patients often resort to lymphatic therapy because other options brought forward to reduce lymphedema have
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Contact: Lindsay Anderson
lindsay.anderson@gabbe.com
212-220-4444
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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