For women who have survived breast cancer, the development of lymphoedema can be a distressing event and often a daily reminder of their breast cancer experience. Lymphoedema can be a chronic debilitating condition resulting in an increased risk of infection, arm swelling and pain, all of which may limit function and negatively impact on quality of life. Women are often highly fearful about developing lymphoedema despite the low risk for most of them in developing the condition.
This presentation will outline a prospective model of care focused on active monitoring to facilitate early detection and management of lymphoedema, which can be effective in reducing the long term physical, functional and psychological effects. Preoperative assessment, ongoing surveillance and early intervention can enhance function and reduce morbidity. Early assessment and intervention using a “toolbox” of evidenced based strategies should be the standard practice within a multidisciplinary team approach for women receiving breast cancer care. Personalised care according to individual circumstances, lifestyle and goals is also an important component of best practice management.
Women should be encouraged to participate in an ongoing education program to provide them with a greater understanding of their lymphoedema risk and enable them to feel more in control of their condition and empowered to return to normal activities & exercise.
Detecting, monitoring and treating early stages of lymphoedema is important for the long term outcome of the condition and ultimate quality of life for the woman. This presentation will highlight current international best practice models of care and associated outcomes.