Advances in lymphoedema prevention, detection and management

April 29, 2020


Lymphedema is a feared complication of cancer treatments that negatively affects survivors’ quality of life. The true incidence of lymphedema is difficult to determine given its long latency period. As the number of survivors of cancer is increasing in the United States, lymphedema is poised to be a major health concern. The most noteworthy risk factor for lymphedema is comprehensive lymph node dissection. The last 2 decades have witnessed a dramatic shift in cancer treatment in an attempt to systematically de-escalate therapeutic interventions, specifically seeking to shift treatment away from routine lymph node dissection in favor of sentinel node biopsy or radiation strategies, thereby reducing the risk for lymphedema while maintaining survival outcomes. A growing body of robust evidence supports prospective screening and thereby a prospective surveillance model (PSM) for early diagnosis and intervention for the prevention and treatment of lymphedema. Finally, investigators are actively evaluating the effectiveness of contemporary surgical procedures in ameliorating the symptoms and disability of patients with lymphedema and reducing the risk of future episodes of cellulitis, with outcomes of surgery significantly better than with conservative therapy alone. In this article, we review the current data surrounding these initiatives.


Mclaughlin, S. A., Stout, N. L., & Schaverien, M. V. (2020). Avoiding the Swell: Advances in Lymphedema Prevention, Detection, and Management. American Society of Clinical Oncology Educational Book, (40), 1–10. doi: 10.1200/edbk_280471

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