Lymphedema: Arm Your Understanding with the Latest Clinical Data

     As a physician, I have long accepted the need to avoid standard clinical procedures on the arm that is on the same side of a woman's breast cancer.  This would include blood pressure measurements, blood draws, IV administration, etc.  Some of the clinical "wisdom" associated with this standard practice dates back to the usage of the Radical Mastectomy as the accepted surgical technique for breast cancer.  This concept originated in the early 1900's.  Has there been any recent clinical study of these clinical limitations?

     A recent clinical publication addressed this issue and can be found on The Pink Ribbon Survivors Network libraries.  Consider its content to determine if our clinical practice should be re-examined.

     In a recent publication of the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO Volumne 34, # 7, pp. 691-698) Ferguson and associates report their decade long study of lymphedema occurrence in over 3000 women following breast cancer surgery.  They found that taking blood pressure measurements, injections, blood draws, and air travel were not associated with increased likelihood for developing arm lymphedema. 

      We urge the reader to consider this data for themselves, as to their own future practice.  We acknowledge the value to the  breast cancer survivorship community from this thoughtful and diligent clinical research, to challenge conventional wisdom that may be more than a century old.

      [ This article, "The Impact of Ipsilateral Blood Draws, Injections, Blood Pressure Measurements, and Air Travel on the Risk of Lymphedema for Patients Treated for Breast Cancer" can be found on the Pink Ribbon Survivors Network Cancer Care Professionals' Library in the Category Radiation Effects/Lymphedema and in the Survivors's Curriculum for Recovery Library in the Category of Diet/Exercise/Self-Care- group # 7.] 

     Or read more here:     http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/34/7/691