Hwang, J.M., Hwang, J.H., Kim, T.W., Lee, S.Y., Chang, H.J., & Chu, I.H. (2013). Long-term effects of complex decongestive therapy in breast cancer patients with arm lymphedema after axillary dissection. Annals of Rehabilitation Medicine, 37, 690–697.doi: 10.5535/arm.2013.37.5.690
To investigate complex decongestive therapy (CDT) and its long-term effects on reduction of edema in patients with breast cancer-related lymphedema who have undergone axillary lymph node dissection, based on their initial fluid volume
A retrospective review of 57 patients was done. Patients were treated with CDT for two weeks and followed for 24 months, with arm volumes being measured before/immediately after CDT, and at 3, 6, 12, and 24 months. Patients were divided into two groups according to their percent excess volume (PEV).
LOCATION: Seoul, Korea
Group 1 had a mean PEV of 11.4% (SD = 5) before CDT and 14.1% (SD = 10.6) at 24 months after CDT, with no significant difference. Group 2, which had a higher initial PEV of 41.9% (SD = 19.6) showed a significant reduction at 24 months to 28.8% (SD = 15.7).
Patients with a higher initial PEV showed a greater reduction in fluid volume after using CDT. For patients with a lower initial PEV, their lymphedema did not increase in severity.
Nurses should encourage movement of affected arms to promote lymphatic drainage, especially in patients with a higher PEV.