September 30, 2015
1 min read

Duration between breast cancer treatment and hand surgery may impact rate of lymphedema

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SEATTLE — The presence of lymphedema following breast cancer treatment and elective hand surgery may be linked to the duration of time between the procedures, according to data presented at the American Society for Surgery of the Hand Annual Meeting.

“Lymphedema appears to be uncommon and self-limited following surgery among this patient population,” Heather L. Baltzer, MSc, MD, FRCSC, said, here.

Baltzer and colleagues retrospectively reviewed 103 breast cancer patients treated with axillary lymph node dissection (ALND), sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) and/or radiation therapy (RT) between 1997 and 2012. Following treatment, the patients also underwent ipsilateral elective hand surgery. Presence of lymphedema post-hand surgery as well as patient and clinical data regarding hand surgery and breast cancer treatment were compared among all patients. Minimum follow-up was 1 year.

Researchers found 4 patients (3.8%) presented with documented lymphedema after hand surgery. Lymphedema was found to be associated with a shorter interval between completion of breast cancer treatment and hand surgery.

Chemotherapy was undertaken in all patients with lymphedema and 29% of patients without lymphedema. All patients with lymphedema underwent RT with either ALND or SLNB compared with 41% of patients without lymphedema. Patients without lymphedema had longer average tourniquet time (23 minutes) compared to patients without lymphedema (9 minutes).

– by Christian Ingram


Baltzer HL, et al. Paper #3. Presented at: American Society for Surgery of the Hand Annual Meeting; Sept. 10-12, 2015; Seattle.

Disclosure: Baltzer reports no relevant financial disclosures.