Prevelance of upper extremity lymphedema and risk factors in patients with mastectomy: Single-center, observational, cross-sectional study

Tuba Tülay Koca, Gökmen Aktaş, Mehmet Emre Kurtgil
Turkish Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2020, 17 (3): 215-224

Objective: Upper extremity complaints are frequently encountered in breast cancer. It was aimed to investigate the pain, extremity pain, and limitation of motion, lymphedema prevalence, severity, risk factors and quality of life in patients with breast cancer followed by mastectomy in our center.

Materials and Methods: The study included 67 patients with mastectomy. The presence of lymphedema, lymphedema duration, and grade of lymphedema were recorded. Grip strength was measured on both hands using a dynamometer; arm, shoulder and hand problems were evaluated using the disabilities of the arm, shoulder, and hand. Quality of life was assessed using the World Health Organization Quality of Life scale-short form.

Results: The presence of lymphedema was 23.9%; the most common was international society of lymphology grade 1 (76.1%); the median lymphedema duration was 12 (range, 3-72) months. Radical/modified radical mastectomy (58.2%) was the most common type of surgery. Median pain score in the affected extremity according to the visual analogue scale was 2 (minimum: 0/maximum: 7); the presence of shoulder pain was 40.3%; shoulder movement limitation was 7.5%.

Conclusion: It was found that lymphedema had a negative effect on quality of life by affecting shoulder, arm, and hand functions even in the early stages. The recognition of risk factors and signs of upper extremity complications in breast cancer survivors will contribute to rehabilitation success.

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