Poster Presentation Joint 2016 COSA and ANZBCTG Annual Scientific Meeting

Is bioimpedance spectroscopy the most effective way of screening for lymphoedema following breast cancer? A systematic review. (#360)

Sharni Patchell 1 , Alexandra Ironside 2 , Gillian Buckley 1 , Erika Kotowicz 1 , Rodney Pope 2 , Natalie de Morton 3
  1. Physiotherapy Department, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Parkville, VIC, Australia
  2. Bond University, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia
  3. Physiotherapy Department, St. Vincents Hospital, Melbourne, VIC, Australia


Lymphoedema (LE) after treatment for breast cancer can drastically affect quality of life for survivors. Early detection and early intervention aims to increase patient quality of life and decrease symptoms, while also decreasing medical costs, via reduced complications and reduced need for long term health professional intervention. Multi Frequency Bioimpedence Spectroscopy Analysis (BIS) is a tool used for early detection to screen for LE in breast cancer patients pre and post axillary surgery.


  • Identify current methods used to screen for LE and summarise their measurement properties
  • Consider optimal time points for LE screening
  • Determine prevalence of LE following nodal surgery due to cancer.


A systematic search was conducted of CINAHL, Embase and PubMed databases and other key sources using a pre-defined search strategy. Systematic screening and selection identified all relevant articles for inclusion and were critically appraised using a standardised tool. Key data and findings were extracted and tabulated from included articles and a critical, narrative synthesis was conducted. 


This systematic review found the prevalence of LE in this population of women following breast cancer treatment ranged from 4.4% to 38%. Additionally, it showed good levels of evidence for BIS to detect subclinical LE in patients following breast cancer treatment, finding its use could potentially lead to decreased incidence rates of clinical LE, decreased costs on the healthcare system, and increased patient quality of life. No standardised time points were identified amongst the papers for LE screening.


BIS has the ability to detect LE at subclinical levels with the potential to prevent development of secondary LE and the potential to decrease burden of cost on the health care system.