Investigating factors potentially associated with late onset breast cancer related lymphedema
Kassamani, Yara W.
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BACKGROUND: Breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL) is a negative sequela of breast cancer treatment that affects approximately one in five patients treated for breast cancer. The median time of BCRL development is three years post breast cancer treatment. The purpose of this study was to compare the incidence of specific factors between two patient populations: patients who developed BCRL within the median BCRL-onset time and patients who developed late onset BCRL (defined as after three years post breast cancer surgery). METHODS: Two cohorts, one with patients who developed BCRL within the median onset time and another with patients who developed late onset lymphedema, were examined. An in-depth chart review was conducted to identify specific factors including age, body mass index, history of cellulitis, cording, seroma, hematoma, and trauma as well as the specific breast cancer treatment each patient received. RESULTS: The results indicated that there was a higher incidence of trauma, cellulitis, and cording in the late onset BCRL group. Additionally, more patients in the late onset group received BCRL-related physical therapy prior to their BCRL diagnosis than patients in the median onset time group. CONCLUSION: Patients with late onset lymphedema had a higher incidence of trauma, cellulitis, and/or cording compared to patients who developed BCRL within three years of surgery. Given that purpose of this study was solely to examine incidence and not significance, further studies must be conducted in order to determine if these are in fact significant risk factors for late onset BCRL.