Researchers from AlcalÃ¡ de Henares University, in Madrid, Spain studied the effectiveness of early physiotherapy following breast cancer surgery.
Women who undergo extensive surgery — with many lymph nodes removed, or radiation therapy to axillary lymph nodes (around the armpit) after surgery — are more likely to develop â€œsecondaryâ€ lymphoedema (associated with the breast cancer surgery), which may occur within 4 years after surgery.
First, the details.
- 120 women who had breast surgery involving dissection of axillary lymph nodes were randomly assigned to a treatment group.
- Early physiotherapy: A physiotherapist put the patients through a program that included manual lymph drainage, massage of scar tissue, and progressive active and action assisted shoulder exercises. This group also received an educational strategy.
- Control group: Educational strategy only
- The incidence of clinically significant secondary lymphoedema (greater than 2 cm increase in arm circumference compared with the non-affected arm) was recorded.
- The researchers were not aware of the treatment given — single blind.
And, the results.
- 18 of 116 women who were followed for a year developed secondary lymphoedema (16%).
- There were significantly more cases in the control group (25%) vs the early physiotherapy group (7%).
- Secondary lymphoedema was diagnosed 4 times earlier in the control group than in the early physiotherapy group.
The bottom line?
The authors concluded, â€œEarly physiotherapy could be an effective intervention in the prevention of secondary lymphoedema in women for at least 1 year after surgery for breast cancer involving dissection of axillary lymph nodes.â€
More about breast cancer and axillary lymph nodes can be found here.
2/4/10 18:56 JR