Obese survivors of breast cancer are at an increased risk of developing lymphedema, which causes inflammation of the limbs,a new study has revealed.
The new study led by University of Missouri researchers has revealed that women with higher body mass index (BMI) are 40 percent to 60 percent more likely to develop lymphedema
"Breast cancer survivors with high BMIs will benefit from education focused on maintaining optimal BMI and lymphedema risk reduction practices," said Jane Armer, professor in the Sinclair School of Nursing and director of nursing research at the Ellis Fischel Cancer Centre.
"Overweight women have the greatest risk of developing lymphedema and should be monitored closely for changes in symptoms and limb volume, especially those who have cancer treatment to the dominant side or experience post-operation swelling," she added.
The analysis revealed that two-thirds of breast cancer survivors are at lymphedema risk in the 30 months after surgery.
The researchers found that comparing BMI and limb volume measurements can help clinicians better detect lymphedema.
"Diagnosing post-breast cancer lymphedema can be difficult because of inconsistent measurement approaches and standards of measurement reliability and validity," Armer said.
"Pre-op limb volume measurement is an essential reference for post-op volume comparison and detection of post-op swelling. Clinicians should consider using a 5 percent limb volume change (LVC) approach (beyond change in BMI) as a more sensitive estimation of post-breast cancer lymphedema," she added.
The study is published in the Journal of Lymphoedema.