Breast Cancer Related Lymphedema – Brief Review

Breast cancer related lymphedema is a progressive and often debilitating condition frequently observed after surgical and radiation treatment of breast cancer. Patients with breast cancer may develop lymphedema within few days to up to decades after treatment. It causes cosmetic deformity, continuous pain and psychological strain affecting quality of life. Lymphedema of arm has received significant attention because of its challenging management. Mastectomy, extent of axillary dissection, radiation therapy, age, wound infection, stage of the disease, and presence of positive lymph nodes are risk factors. Numerous methods have been described in literature for the assessment of lymphedema like volumetric methods (water displacement), serial circumferential measurements, tonometry, tissue dielectric constants, MRI and bioelectrical impedance. The complexity of breast cancer related lymphedema needs multidisciplinary therapeutic approach including surgical and non-surgical approaches.

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