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The NCCN Guidelines for Survivorship provide screening, evaluation, and treatment recommendations for common physical and psychosocial consequences of cancer and cancer treatment to help healthcare professionals who work with survivors of adult-onset cancer in the posttreatment period. This portion of the guidelines describes recommendations regarding the management of anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity and lymphedema. In addition, recommendations regarding immunizations and the prevention of infections in cancer survivors are included.
Copyright © 2018 by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
BACKGROUND - Breast cancer treatment-related lymphedema (BCRL) arises from a mechanical insufficiency following cancer therapies. Early BCRL detection and personalized intervention require an improved understanding of the physiological processes that initiate lymphatic impairment. Here, internal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measures of the tissue microenvironment were paired with clinical measures of tissue structure to test fundamental hypotheses regarding structural tissue and muscle changes after the commonly used therapeutic intervention of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD).
METHODS AND RESULTS - Measurements to identify lymphatic dysfunction in healthy volunteers (n = 29) and patients with BCRL (n = 16) consisted of (1) limb volume, tissue dielectric constant, and bioelectrical impedance (i.e., non-MRI measures); (2) qualitative 3 Tesla diffusion-weighted, T-weighted and T-weighted MRI; and (3) quantitative multi-echo T MRI of the axilla. Measurements were repeated in patients immediately following MLD. Normative control and BCRL T values were quantified and a signed Wilcoxon Rank-Sum test was applied (significance: two-sided p < 0.05). Non-MRI measures yielded significant capacity for discriminating between arms with versus without clinical signs of BCRL, yet yielded no change in response to MLD. Alternatively, a significant increase in deep tissue T on the involved (pre T = 0.0371 ± 0.003 seconds; post T = 0.0389 ± 0.003; p = 0.029) and contralateral (pre T = 0.0365 ± 0.002; post T = 0.0395 ± 0.002; p < 0.01) arms was observed. Trends for larger T increases on the involved side after MLD in patients with stage 2 BCRL relative to earlier stages 0 and 1 BCRL were observed, consistent with tissue composition changes in later stages of BCRL manifesting as breakdown of fibrotic tissue after MLD in the involved arm. Contrast consistent with relocation of fluid to the contralateral quadrant was observed in all stages.
CONCLUSION - Quantitative deep tissue T MRI values yielded significant changes following MLD treatment, whereas non-MRI measurements did not vary. These findings highlight that internal imaging measures of tissue composition may be useful for evaluating how current and emerging therapies impact tissue function.
PURPOSE - Lymphatic impairment is known to reduce quality of life in some of the most crippling diseases of the 21st century, including obesity, lymphedema, and cancer. However, the lymphatics are not nearly as well-understood as other bodily systems, largely owing to a lack of sensitive imaging technologies that can be applied using standard clinical equipment. Here, proton exchange-weighted MRI is translated to the lymphatics in patients with breast cancer treatment-related lymphedema (BCRL).
METHODS - Healthy volunteers (N = 8) and BCRL patients (N = 7) were scanned at 3 Tesla using customized structural MRI and amide proton transfer (APT) chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) MRI in sequence with the hypothesis that APT effects would be elevated in lymphedematous tissue. APT contrast, lymphedema stage, symptomatology, and histology information were evaluated.
RESULTS - No significant difference between proton-weighted APT contrast in the right and left arms of healthy controls was observed. An increase in APT contrast in the affected arms of patients was found (P = 0.025; Cohen's d = 2.4), and variability among patients was consistent with documented damage to lymphatics as quantified by lymphedema stage.
CONCLUSION - APT CEST MRI may have relevance for evaluating lymphatic impairment in patients with BCRL, and may extend to other pathologies where lymphatic compromise is evident.
© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
BACKGROUND - A significant percentage of breast cancer survivors are at risk for lymphedema for which lifelong self-care is required. Previous studies suggest that less than 50% of breast cancer survivors with lymphedema (BCS-LE) perform prescribed self-care tasks and that even wearing a compression sleeve, the most commonly reported self-care activity, is done irregularly. Reasons for poor self-care adherence include perceived lack of results from self-care (no available arm volume data) and perceived inability to manage the condition.
METHODS AND RESULTS - A two-part pilot study was conducted to: 1) develop and determine the feasibility of a self-measurement protocol using a single frequency bioelectrical impedance device; and 2) examine daily variation in extracellular volume in healthy and lymphedematous limbs. Healthy and BCS-LE volunteers were recruited to refine and test a self-measurement protocol. Volunteers were trained in the use of the device and measured for 5 consecutive days in a laboratory setting. They were then given the device to use at home for an additional 5 consecutive days of self-measurement. All volunteers completed each scheduled home measurement. Daily variability in both groups was noted.
CONCLUSIONS - Home self-measurement using bioelectrical impedance is feasible, acceptable, and captures change. This has implications for both self-care support and for the possibility of incorporating self-measurement using bioelectrical impedance in future clinical trials examining effectiveness of lymphedema treatment.
PURPOSE/OBJECTIVES - To compare available grading and staging scales that measure external lymphedema in patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) and to assess problems and gaps related to these tools.
DESIGN - Cross-sectional.
SETTING - A comprehensive cancer center in Tennessee.
SAMPLE - 103 participants post-HNC treatment.
METHODS - Four scales were used to evaluate study participant external lymphedema status, including the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE) Lymphedema Scale (version 3.0), American Cancer Society Lymphedema Scale, Stages of Lymphedema (Földi's Scale), and the CTCAE Fibrosis Scale (version 3.0).
MAIN RESEARCH VARIABLES - Occurrence rate, severity of lymphedema, and components and descriptors of each scale.
FINDINGS - The prevalence and severity of external lymphedema differed based on the tools. Each tool had an identified limitation. Current theory postulates a continuum between lymphedema and fibrosis, but only the Földi's Scale adequately reflected that concept.
CONCLUSIONS - None of the available scales clearly captured all the important characteristics of external lymphedema in patients with HNC. A need exists to develop a clearly defined and validated scale of external lymphedema in the HNC population.
IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING - Oncology nurses should take an active role in addressing issues related to lymphedema assessment in patients post-HNC treatment; however, new assessment tools need to be developed for clinical use.
KNOWLEDGE TRANSLATION - Early identification and accurate documentation of head and neck lymphedema are critically important to prevent lymphedema progress. However, existing grading criteria failed to capture important characteristics of external head and neck lymphedema. More research efforts need to be made to address this under-recognized issue.
PURPOSE - To extend a commonly used noninvasive arterial spin labeling magnetic resonance (MR) imaging method for measuring blood flow to evaluate lymphatic flow.
MATERIALS AND METHODS - All volunteers (n = 12) provided informed consent in accordance with institutional review board and HIPAA regulations. Quantitative relaxation time (T1 and T2) measurements were made in extracted human lymphatic fluid at 3.0 T. Guided by these parameters, an arterial spin labeling MR imaging approach was adapted to measure lymphatic flow (flow-alternating inversion-recovery lymphatic water labeling, 3 × 3 × 5 mm) in healthy subjects (n = 6; mean age, 30 years ± 1 [standard deviation]; recruitment duration, 2 months). Lymphatic flow velocity was quantified by performing spin labeling measurements as a function of postlabeling delay time and by measuring time to peak signal intensity in axillary lymph nodes. Clinical feasibility was evaluated in patients with stage II lymphedema (three women; age range, 43-64 years) and in control subjects with unilateral cuff-induced lymphatic stenosis (one woman, two men; age range, 31-35 years).
RESULTS - Mean T1 and T2 relaxation times of lymphatic fluid at 3.0 T were 3100 msec ± 160 (range, 2930-3210 msec; median, 3200 msec) and 610 msec ± 12 (range, 598-618 msec; median, 610 msec), respectively. Healthy lymphatic flow (afferent vessel to axillary node) velocity was 0.61 cm/min ± 0.13 (n = 6). A reduction (P < .005) in lymphatic flow velocity in the affected arms of patients and the affected arms of healthy subjects with manipulated cuff-induced flow reduction was observed. The ratio of unaffected to affected axilla lymphatic velocity (1.24 ± 0.18) was significantly (P < .005) higher than the left-to-right ratio in healthy subjects (0.91 ± 0.18).
CONCLUSION - This work provides a foundation for clinical investigations whereby lymphedema etiogenesis and therapies may be interrogated without exogenous agents and with clinically available imaging equipment. Online supplemental material is available for this article.
© RSNA, 2013.
PURPOSE/OBJECTIVES - To examine the impact of advanced practice nurse (APN)-administered low-level laser therapy (LLLT) as both a stand-alone and complementary treatment for arm volume, symptoms, and quality of life (QOL) in women with breast cancer-related lymphedema.
DESIGN - A three-group, pilot, randomized clinical trial.
SETTING - A private rehabilitation practice in the southeastern United States.
SAMPLE - 46 breast cancer survivors with treatment-related lymphedema.
METHODS - Patients were screened for eligibility and then randomized to either manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) for 40 minutes, LLLT for 20 minutes, or 20 minutes of MLD followed by 20 minutes of LLLT. Compression bandaging was applied after each treatment. Data were collected pretreatment, daily, weekly, and at the end of treatment.
MAIN RESEARCH VARIABLES - Independent variables consisted of three types of APN-administered lymphedema treatment. Outcome variables included limb volume, extracellular fluid, psychological and physical symptoms, and QOL.
FINDINGS - No statistically significant between-group differences were found in volume reduction; however, all groups had clinically and statistically significant reduction in volume. No group differences were noted in psychological and physical symptoms or QOL; however, treatment-related improvements were noted in symptom burden within all groups. Skin improvement was noted in each group that received LLLT.
CONCLUSIONS - LLLT with bandaging may offer a time-saving therapeutic option to conventional MLD. Alternatively, compression bandaging alone could account for the demonstrated volume reduction.
IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING - APNs can effectively treat lymphedema. APNs in private healthcare practices can serve as valuable research collaborators.
KNOWLEDGE TRANSLATION - Lasers may provide effective, less burdensome treatment for lymphedema. APNs with lymphedema certification can effectively treat this patient population with the use of LLLT. In addition, bioelectrical impedance and tape measurements can be used to assess lymphedema.
OBJECTIVES - To provide an overview of the anatomy and physiology of the lymphatic system and the pathophysiology of lymphedema.
DATA SOURCES - Peer-reviewed publications, textbooks, and professional experience.
CONCLUSION - Many cancer patients and survivors are at risk for lymphedema that can occur in any area of the body.
IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE - Nurses should become leaders in the early identification of lymphedema. When caring for patients with lymphedema, nurses should: 1) encourage self-care, 2) provide emotional support, 3) offer patient and lay caregiver education, 4) assess symptoms patients with lymphedema may be experiencing, and 5) develop a plan of management.
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Currently, there is a lack of data related to differences in symptoms and infection across different types and anatomical sites of lymphedema. The objective of this study was to examine differences in symptoms and infection status among individuals with lymphedema of the upper or lower extremities. The National Lymphedema Network initiated an online survey of self-report lymphedema data from March 2006 through January 2010. Descriptive statistics, Mann-Whitney tests, and Chi-square tests were used to analyze data. 723 individuals with upper extremity lymphedema and 1114 individuals with lower extremity lymphedema completed the survey. Individuals with extremity lymphedema experienced high symptom burden and infectious complications. Compared with individuals with upper extremity lymphedema, individuals with lower extremity lymphedema experienced more frequent and more severe symptoms (p<.001), infection episodes (p<.001), and infection-related hospitalizations (p<.001). No statistically significant differences of symptom burden and infection status were identified between individuals with lower extremity primary and secondary lymphedema. Individuals with extremity lymphedema experience substantial symptom burden and infectious complications; however, those with lower extremity lymphedema have more severe symptoms and more infections than those with upper extremity lymphedema.
Breast cancer survivors with lymphedema experience physical, psychosocial, and quality-of-life difficulties. Cancer treatment-related lymphedema often is viewed as a disabling condition, and that assumption has fostered an environment in which oncology nurses are not actively involved in the care of patients with lymphedema. Little is known about how breast cancer survivors with lymphedema structure their daily lives. This article describes an effort to determine whether lymphedema truly is a disabling condition by collecting symptom data and self-generated narratives from breast cancer survivors with lymphedema regarding their eating habits, daily activities, substance use, and future plans. Although the sample experienced multiple symptoms, lymphedema duration and degree of extracellular arm fluid did not appear to influence those symptoms. In addition, participants led full, rich, busy lives. The findings do not support the notion that patients with lymphedema live as disabled people. A disability model may not be optimal to guide research design or patient care; rather, a symptom management model better explains the findings and implies that active involvement by nurses in lymphedema patient care and education is indicated.