Informational Needs of Breast Cancer Patients Related to Lymphedema

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Abstract

Background:

There are over 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States today. Women treated for breast cancer face an increased lifetime risk of developing lymphedema. Past research confirms that women are not always fully informed about their individual risk of developing lymphedema. Some health care providers argue that detailed information about lymphedema may lead to increased stress and anxiety; however, many individuals want information to make fully informed decisions about treatment and feel empowered over the disease process.

Objectives:

To investigate the informational needs of breast cancer survivors related to lymphedema and determine the preferred timing and delivery of information.

Methods:

A cross-sectional, descriptive study design was used to answer the research questions. Between January and March 2013, 35 breast cancer patients at a cancer treatment center in Goodyear, Arizona voluntarily completed a self-administered, paper and pencil survey.

Results:

The majority of the women were Caucasian, married, and over age 40. Nearly all (n = 34) had computer and internet access. An overwhelming majority of the respondents classified the importance of having lymphedema information as very high. The preferred information delivery method was 1:1 private sessions. Website and on-line tools were the least popular choices.

Limitations:

Small sample size and limited ability to generalize results.

Conclusions:

Female breast cancer patients have high needs for detailed information related to lymphedema. Private sessions are the preferred delivery method, but the preferred time to receive information is variable.

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