American Society of Breast Surgeons’ Practice Patterns for Patients at Risk and Affected by Breast Cancer-Related Lymphedema

Sarah M. DeSnyder, Min Yi, Francesco Boccardo, Sheldon Feldman, V. Suzanne Klimberg, Mark Smith, Paul T.R. Thiruchelvam, Sarah McLaughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: In 2017, the American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBrS) published expert panel recommendations for patients at risk for breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL) and those affected by BCRL. This study sought to determine BCRL practice patterns. Methods: A survey was sent to 2975 ASBrS members. Questions evaluated members’ clinical practice type, practice duration, and familiarity with BCRL recommendations. Descriptive statistics, the chi-square test, and Fisher’s exact test were used. Results: Of the ASBrS members surveyed, 390 (13.1%) responded. Most of the breast surgeons (58.5%, 228/390) indicated unfamiliarity with recommendations. Nearly all respondents (98.7%, 385/390) educate at-risk patients. Most (60.2%, 234/389) instruct patients to avoid venipuncture, injection or blood pressure measurements in the at-risk arm, and 35.6% (138/388) recommend prophylactic compression sleeve use during air travel. Nearly all (97.7%, 380/389) encourage those at-risk to exercise, including resistance exercise (86.2%, 331/384). Most do not perform axillary reverse mapping (ARM) (67.9%, 264/389) or a lymphatic preventive healing approach (LYMPHA) (84.9%, 331/390). Most (76.1%, 296/389) screen at-risk patients for BCRL. The most frequently used screening tools include self-reported symptoms (81%, 255/315), circumferential tape measure (54%, 170/315) and bioimpedance spectroscopy (27.3%, 86/315). After a BCRL diagnosis, most (90%, 351/390) refer management to a lymphedema-certified physical therapist. For affected patients, nearly all encourage exercise (98.7%, 384/389). Many (49%, 191/390) refer affected patients for consideration of lymphovenous bypass or lymph node transfer. Conclusion: Most respondents were unfamiliar with the ASBrS expert panel recommendations for patients at risk for BCRL and those affected by BCRL. Opportunities exist to increase awareness of best practices and to acquire ARM and LYMPHA technical expertise.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of Surgical Oncology
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology

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