Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Super Micro-surgery Offers New Hope For Breast Cancer Patients With Lymphedema

Date:
March 29, 2009
Source:
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Summary:
Breast cancer patients with lymphedema in their upper arm experienced reduced fluid in the swollen arm by up to 39 percent after undergoing a super-microsurgical technique known as lymphaticovenular bypass.

Breast cancer patients with lymphedema in their upper arm experienced reduced fluid in the swollen arm by up to 39 percent after undergoing a super-microsurgical technique known as lymphaticovenular bypass, report researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The results from the prospective analysis, presented March 23 at the 88th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons, suggest another option for breast cancer patients considering ways to manage lymphedema, a common and debilitating condition following surgery and/or radiation therapy for breast cancer.

Lymphedema results when the lymph nodes are removed or blocked due to treatment and lymph fluid accumulates causing chronic swelling in the upper arm. Currently, there is no cure or preventive measure for lymphedema and it is difficult to manage; the use of compression bandages, massage and other forms of lymphatic therapy are commonly recommended options for patients. According to the National Cancer Institute, 25 to 30 percent of women who have breast cancer surgery with lymph node removal and radiation therapy develop lymphedema.

Researchers evaluated 20 breast cancer patients with stage II and III treatment-related lymphedema of the upper arm who underwent a lymphaticovenular bypass at M. D. Anderson from December 2005 to September 2008. Due to lymphedema, the patients' affected arm was an average of 34 percent larger compared to the unaffected arm prior to the surgery. Of these 20 patients, 19 reported initial significant clinical improvement following the procedure. In those patients with postoperative volumetric analysis measurements, total mean reduction in the volume differential at one month was 29 percent, at three months 33 percent, at six months 39 percent and 25 percent at one year.

"Patients often resort to lymphatic therapy because other options brought forward to reduce lymphedema haven't proved effective," said lead author on the study David W. Chang, M.D., professor in the Department of Plastic Surgery and Director of the Plastic Surgery Clinic at M. D. Anderson. "Surgical techniques, in particular, have been limited and therefore have been met with skepticism by surgeons, making it extremely important to determine which new techniques promise to bring real benefits to patients."

In lymphaticovenular bypass surgery, surgeons use tiny microsurgical tools to make two to three small incisions measuring an inch or less in the patient's arm. Lymphatic fluid is then redirected to microscopic vessels - approximately 0.3 - 0.8 millimeters in diameter - to promote drainage and alleviate lymphedema. The procedure is minimally invasive and is generally completed in less than four hours under general anesthesia, allowing patients to return home from the hospital within 24 hours. M. D. Anderson is among a few institutions in the United States to offer this technically complex surgery.

"Lymphedema is like a massive traffic jam with no exit," Chang said. "This procedure does a lot to help relieve lymphedema by giving the fluid a way out. While it does not totally eliminate the condition, there is very little downside for the patient and we may see significant improvement in its severity."

Chang notes that while most effective when completed in earlier stages before the affected arm is fibrotic, almost any breast cancer patient suffering from lymphedema stage I, II or III is a candidate. Though breast cancer was the focus of this study, the surgery can also be performed on patients who have lymphedema in the leg resulting from cancers involving pelvic regions.

Cancer treatment is not the only cause of lymphedema. Primary lymphedema can develop from developmental causes at birth, the onset of puberty or in adulthood. Secondary lymphedema can develop as a result of surgery, radiation, infection or trauma. In developing countries, a form of lymphedema caused by a parasite called Filariasis affects as many as 200 million people worldwide. "As we begin to refine our technique and learn more about the efficacy of this surgery, we have the potential to impact a large number of people," Chang said.

Long-term follow-up with patients who have received lymphaticovenular bypass surgery is necessary to determine if the procedure continues to promote drainage after one year. Chang and his team of surgeons at M. D. Anderson believe that the fluid volume will keep decreasing over time and suggest that the surgery could possibly be used as a preventive measure for lymphedema in the future. "Working toward a definitive technique to cure this encumbering side effect of cancer and improve a patient's quality of life as a cancer survivor is a priority for those of us in this field."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. "Super Micro-surgery Offers New Hope For Breast Cancer Patients With Lymphedema." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090323101819.htm>.
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. (2009, March 29). Super Micro-surgery Offers New Hope For Breast Cancer Patients With Lymphedema. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090323101819.htm
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. "Super Micro-surgery Offers New Hope For Breast Cancer Patients With Lymphedema." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090323101819.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Tens of thousands of doses of experimental Ebola vaccines could be available for "real-world" testing in West Africa as soon as January as long as they are deemed safe in soon to start trials, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up new guidelines for health workers taking care of patients infected with Ebola. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins