Lymphedema Burden High After Breast Cancer

-- Rick Ansorge

Thursday, March 19, 2009

THURSDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- Within two years after breast cancer treatment, a significant number of patients develop lymphedema, resulting in a greater risk of complications and increased treatment costs, according to a study published online March 16 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Ya-Chen Tina Shih, Ph.D., of The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues used claims data to assess two-year outcomes in 1,877 patients.

The researchers found that about 10 percent of the patients had claims for lymphedema treatment. Compared to women who didn't develop lymphedema, those who did were more likely to have undergone full axillary node dissection and chemotherapy (odds ratios, 6.3 and 1.6, respectively). Compared to women in the Northeast, women in the West were significantly more likely to develop lymphedema (odds ratio, 2.05). Lymphedema patients also had a greater risk of lymphangitis or cellulitis (odds ratio, 2.02) and significantly higher medical costs ($14,877 to $23,167) than non-lymphedema patients, the report indicates.

"Although the use of claims data may underestimate the true incidence of lymphedema, women with breast cancer-related lymphedema had a greater risk of infections and incurred higher medical costs," the authors conclude. "The substantial costs documented here suggest that further efforts should be made to elucidate reduction and prevention strategies for breast cancer-related lymphedema."

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Specialties Cardiology
Diabetes & Endocrinology
Internal Medicine
Family Practice

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