Gothard, L., Haviland, J., Bryson, P., Laden, G., Glover, M., Harrison, S., . . . Yarnold, J. (2010). Randomised phase II trial of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in patients with chronic arm lymphoedema after radiotherapy for cancer. Radiotherapy and Oncology: Journal of the European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, 97(1), 101–107.doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2010.04.026
To assess the effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy on reducing arm lymphedema in patients with early-stage breast cancer
Participants were divided into the control and the experimental group at a ratio of 1 to 2, respectively. The experimental group received HBO therapy and breathed 100% oxygen at 2.4 atmospheres absolute for 100 minutes with two five-minute air breaks. The sessions were conducted 30 times in a six-week period or five times a week. Both the control and experimental groups received patient education on standard care for lymphedema and hosiery when appropriate.
The study took place in multiple hospitals in the United Kingdom.
Patients were undergoing active lymphedema treatment.
The study used a randomized phase II study design.
There was not a statistically significant change in limb volume between the control group (p = 0.64) and the experimental group (p = 0.50) at 12 months after baseline. The investigators define a positive response as an 8% reduction in arm volume. Thirty percent of the experimental group versus 18.8% of the control group responded to meet these criteria but was also statistically insignificant (p = 0.50). Lymphatic clearance rates were similar among groups and were not significant findings. Quality of life findings were similar among both groups and were not significant.
The study suggests that HBO therapy when added to best standard treatment of lymphedema in patients with breast cancer is not effective. The study does not confirm earlier reports of a therapeutic effect of HBO.
The study suggests that HBO therapy is an ineffective therapy for treating lymphedema in patients with breast cancer. The therapy should not be enacted into practice. Nursing researchers should analyze the randomized trial and non-randomized trials of this treatment program to identify confounding variables that may have made the non-randomized trial results significant and the randomized trial results not significant. If the study is repeated a larger sample size should be used.