Incidence of breast lymphedema and predictors of its development in patients receiving whole breast radiation therapy after breast-conservation surgery

R. G. Ganju, G. Savvides, S. Korentager, M. J. Ward, M. TenNapel, A. Amin, J. Wagner, M. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

One common adverse effect following breast-conservation surgery and adjuvant radiation is lymphedema. While lymphedema of the arm has been well-characterized, there has been less investigation into lymphedema of the breast. We sought to characterize rates of breast lymphedema (BLE) in women with early-stage breast cancer and identify potential predictors in its development. Two hundred and thirty consecutive patients treated with lumpectomy and adjuvant whole breast radiation therapy (WBRT) from January 2016 - June 2017 were included. All patients were seen in our lymphedema monitoring clinic for baseline and at least one follow-up lymphedema measurement. BLE grades were assigned by trained nurses in the lymphedema clinic. Data regarding patient demographic and treatment factors were extracted from the electronic medical record. Comparisons between groups were made using Chi-Square analysis performed in SAS. The median age of the sample was 62 (range 31-90). Median follow-up from surgery was 15.3 months. Forty-three patients were diagnosed with lymphedema of the breast (18.7%). Rates of grade 1 and 2 BLE were 93% and 7%, respectively; there were no cases of severe lymphedema. Sixty-three percent of cases resolved by last follow-up with treatment recommendations. There was no association between development of BLE and patient factors investigated, including age, T stage, radiation dose and fractionation, lymph node biopsy, number of lymph nodes removed, development of arm lymphedema, and use of chemotherapy. Tumor subtype was found to be significant (P = 0.04) and there was a trend towards significance for receipt of trastuzumab (P = 0.09). BLE is a distinct entity from arm lymphedema and is a common finding in women treated with breast-conserving surgery and adjuvant WBRT. It is a generally mild and self-limiting process. There were no treatment or patient-related factors that correlated with increased risk of lymphedema development in our sample except for HER-2 positive disease and receipt of trastuzamab.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-133
Number of pages8
JournalLymphology
Volume52
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

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Keywords

  • adjuvant whole breast irradiation
  • breast lymphedema
  • breast-conservation surgery
  • predictors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Hematology

Cite this

Ganju, R. G., Savvides, G., Korentager, S., Ward, M. J., TenNapel, M., Amin, A., Wagner, J., & Mitchell, M. (2019). Incidence of breast lymphedema and predictors of its development in patients receiving whole breast radiation therapy after breast-conservation surgery. Lymphology, 52(3), 126-133.