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Εffective complete decongestive therapy of upper limb lymphedema in women after mastectomy

Kalemikerakis Ioannis, Kosma Evanthia, Dimakakos Evaggelos

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

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Pages: 57-62


Lymphedema after mastectomy is a common complication. Between 10% and 64% of women reported symptoms in the upper extremities, 6 months to 3 years after surgery for breast cancer, while about 20% of them develop lymphedema. 

The aim was to investigate the recent literature on the effective prevention and treatment of upper limb lymphedema in women after mastectomy. 

Method and material: Was performed a review of published randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and guidelines for prevention and treatment of breast-cancer-related lymphedema. The PubMed, SCOPUS, Cochrane Database, reputable websites and guidelines of Hellenic Surgical Society.

Results: The patient’s education is an important priority although may not be totally prevent lymphedema. Significant differences were observed between patients on the appearance of lymphedema due to preexisting differences in the functional structure of the lymphatic system. A therapeutic program may include bandaging, exercise, lymph manual drainage, skin care and self care program at home. It is very important to start early treatment because patients who started treatment in <12 months from the first symptoms had better recovery than those who began treatment> 12 months. Lymph manual drainage, when done correctly, increases the movement of lymph fluid about twenty times. 
Conclusions: Women who suffer from lymphedema are essential to maintain a healthy diet, to control their weight and to follow the correct complete decongestive therapy. In addition, by exercising the lymphatic system is activated to circulate the lymph fluid throughout the body.

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