Reply: Early Detection of Lymphatic Disorder and Treatment for Lymphedema following Breast Cancer
First, it should be proved that the prognosis of lymphedema will show long-term improvement and the total expenses of lymphedema care can be reduced when lymphedema is detected in the early stages or as a subclinical disease. We have published the results of our treatment for patients with subclinical and early-stage lower extremity lymphedema following the cohort study; however, the mean follow-up period was 20.9 ± 2.2 months after lymph node dissection.3 Because lymphedema is a chronic, progressive disease, the results of a longer follow-up period should be analyzed in future studies.
Second, maximum effort should be devoted to decreasing patient discomfort associated with the screening procedure. Ideally, the screening test should be conducted using a painless method, during the follow-up examination after cancer treatment. Oncologists, nurses, therapists, and physicians specializing in lymphedema treatment should work as a team to detect early-stage and subclinical lymphedema and establishing treatment methods.