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01.06.2015 | Original Article | Ausgabe 6/2015

Supportive Care in Cancer 6/2015

Prospective surveillance of breast cancer-related lymphoedema in the first-year post-surgery: feasibility and comparison of screening measures

Supportive Care in Cancer > Ausgabe 6/2015
J. M. Blaney, G. McCollum, J. Lorimer, J. Bradley, R. Kennedy, J. P. Rankin



To examine the feasibility of a breast cancer-related lymphoedema (BCRL) screening programme. Additionally, to investigate the efficacy of bioimpedance analysis (BIA) compared to circumferential measurements (CM) in detecting BCRL.


This was a 12-month prospective feasibility study. Participants were recruited from two diagnostic breast clinics and consented to be screened for BCRL. Pre-surgical assessments were conducted, and participants were followed up at quarterly intervals. BIA and CM measurements were conducted at all time points. An L-Dex score of >10 or a 10-U increase from baseline or a ≥5 % increase in proximal, distal or total percentage volume difference (PVD) from baseline was indicative of BCRL. Information was collected on subjective symptoms, potential risk factors, demographics and medical data. Feasibility was based on uptake and retention.


One hundred twenty-six participants were recruited with an attrition rate of 16.2 %. Participants’ mean age was 59 years with the majority having stage I (63.9 %), infiltrating ductal carcinoma (87.4 %). 31.6 % were identified as having BCRL, 90.3 % detected by CM and 35.5 % by BIA (p = ≤0.0001). We found no significant correlation between BIA and CM. Participants identified as having BCRL had a higher BMI, a recent injury to their ‘at-risk’ arm and more lymph nodes excised (p = <0.05). These findings were not evident across all time points. A large percentage of participants had transient BCRL when assessed by a lymphoedema physiotherapist.


BCRL screening is acceptable and valued by breast cancer survivors. Work needs to continue to establish the most effective screening tool and the natural behaviour of BCRL within the first-year post-surgery.

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