Prevalence and impacts of upper limb morbidity after treatment for breast cancer: a cross-sectional study of lymphedema and function.
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Bulley, C., Coutts, F., Blyth, C., Jack, W., Chetty, U., Barber, M. & Tan, C. (2013) Prevalence and impacts of upper limb morbidity after treatment for breast cancer: a cross-sectional study of lymphedema and function., Cancer and Oncology Research, vol. 1, , pp. 30-39,
A cross-sectional study screened lymphedema, impaired upper limb function (ULF) and quality of life (QOL) in women post-breast cancer. Women attending review appointments who had completed surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, were without recurrence, and could complete questionnaires in English were invited. Medical records were reviewed and questionnaires completed: the Morbidity Screening Tool (MST), Disability of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand questionnaire (DASH), and Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy for breast cancer QOL questionnaire (FACTB+4). The vertical perometer (400T) measured percentage upper limb volume difference (%LVD), with 10% or greater difference diagnosed as lymphedema. Of 617 participants (mean age 62.3y, SD 10.0; mean time since treatment 63.0 months, SD 46.6), sufficient questionnaire data were available for 613 and perometry data for 417. Using the MST, 21.9% self-reported impaired ULF, 19.8% lymphedema, and 9.2% both. Based on %LVD, 26.5% had lymphedema. Histogram analysis for individuals in the first eight twelve-month intervals after treatment found impaired ULF prevalence peaked at three to five years and lymphedema at three years. Significantly worse function (DASH) and QOL (FACT B+4) resulted for those with morbidity (p<0.000). This provides evidence that impaired ULF and lymphedema negatively affect QOL years after treatment and are not necessarily linked.