Monitoring women with breast cancer via a technique called bioimpedance spectroscopy, coupled with the use of conservative, patient-administered therapies, can improve outcomes for those patients at risk for lymphedema, researchers reported.
Those researchers found that use of this technique, along with the administration of this conservative therapeutic regimen, resulted in clinically persistent rates of breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL) of 6%, reported Lyndsey Kilgore, MD, of the University of Kansas Cancer Center in Kansas City, and colleagues, during a press briefing at the American Society of Breast Surgeons annual meeting in Orlando.
Breast cancer-related lymphedema is a chronic, progressive disease that sometimes occurs after the removal of axillary lymph nodes. According to the researchers, lymphedema rates for this group of patients have historically ranged from 20%-40%, impacting the quality of life of these women and adding a significant cost burden to both patients and the health system.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network lymphedema guidelines call for baseline measurements of breast cancer patients, followed by serial post-operative measurements, the authors pointed out. Bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS) is a newer technique used to evaluate lymphedema and measures tissue resistance to an electric current in order to determine extracellular fluid volume.
Kilgore said it is critical to detect those patients at risk for lymphedema before they present with symptoms that are so severe it requires the use of complex, costly interventions, or even results in a condition that can’t be reversed.
Her group wanted to determine whether a baseline measurement with BIS, followed by postoperative monitoring, detected lymphatic impairment early enough to allow conservative, patient-administered therapies to reduce the incidence of clinical BCRL.
In this study, 146 patients with unilateral breast cancer were prospectively evaluated from November 2014 to December 2017. These patients underwent treatments considered to be high risk for BCRL, including axillary lymph node dissection with regional modal irradiation and/or taxane chemotherapy.