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The incidence and risk factors of related lymphedema for breast cancer survivors post-operation: a 2-year follow-up prospective cohort study



The incidence and risk factors of related lymphedema for breast cancer survivors post-operation: a 2-year follow-up prospective cohort study



Breast Cancer 25(3): 309-314



To investigate the incidence rate, severity and risk factors of related lymphedema in breast cancer survivors. A 2-year follow-up prospective study of 387 women who had operation from four hospitals from January 1, to December 31, 2014 was conducted. Limb volume was measured by circumference and symptoms were measured using questionnaires pre-treatment and 1, 3, 6, 12, 18, 24 months after surgery separately. The incidence rates and the severity of lymphedema were evaluated, respectively. Risk factors for the development of breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL) were analyzed using log-rank test and Cox regression. The incidences of BCRL were 4.4, 10.1, 15.2, 28.6, 31.2 and 32.5% at 1, 3, 6, 12, 18, 24 months after surgery, respectively, measured by Norman questionnaire. The rates measured by arm circumference were 2.5, 6.7, 13.4, 21.4, 26.3 and 29.4%, respectively. About 114 (29.4% of 387) women were diagnosed with BCRL, and 78 of them got mild lymphedema. Axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) (HR = 5.2, 95% CI 1.6-17.3), radiotherapy (HR = 3.9, 95% CI 2.0-7.5), modified radical mastectomy (MRM) (HR = 2.1, 95% CI 1.3-3.4), the number of positive lymph nodes (HR = 1.1, 95% CI 1.0-1.2) and body mass index (BMI) (HR = 1.1, 95% CI 1.0-1.1) were independent risk factors for BCRL. BCRL is a common complication for breast cancer patients after surgery. It can be fairly diagnosed only 1 month post-operation and the cumulative incidence of BCRL seems to be increasing over time, especially in the first year after surgery. ALND, radiotherapy, MRM, the number of positive axillary lymph nodes and BMI were found to be independent risk factors in the development of BCRL in this study.

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Accession: 065591789

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PMID: 29397555

DOI: 10.1007/s12282-018-0830-3


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