Breast-Cancer-Related Lymphedema: Information, Symptoms, and Risk-Reduction Behaviors

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Abstract

Purpose

To explore the effect of providing lymphedema information on breast cancer survivors' symptoms and practice of risk-reduction behaviors.

Design

A cross-sectional design was used to obtain data from 136 breast-cancer survivors in New York City from August 2006 to May 2007. Descriptive statistics, t tests, chi-square tests, and correlations were calculated.

Methods

Data were collected using a demographic and medical information interview tool, two questions regarding status of receiving lymphedema information, the Lymphedema and Breast Cancer Questionnaire, and Lymphedema Risk-Reduction Behavior Checklist.

Findings

Fifty-seven percent of the participants reported that they received lymphedema information. On average, participants had three lymphedema-related symptoms. Only 18% of participants were free of symptoms. Participants who received information reported significantly fewer symptoms (t=3.03; p<0.00) and practicing more risk-reduction behaviors (t=2.42; p=0.01).

Conclusions

Providing lymphedema information has an effect on symptom reduction and more risk-reduction behaviors being practiced among breast cancer survivors.

Clinical Relevance

In clinical practice, nurses and other healthcare professionals could consider taking the initiative to provide adequate and accurate information and engage breast-cancer survivors in supportive dialogues concerning lymphedema risk-reduction.

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