Lymphatic abnormalities in the normal contralateral arms of subjects with breast cancer-related lymphedema as assessed by near-infrared fluorescent imaging

Biomed Opt Express. 2012 Jun 1;3(6):1256-65. doi: 10.1364/BOE.3.001256. Epub 2012 May 3.


Current treatment of unilateral breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL) is only directed to the afflicted arm. Near-infrared fluorescent imaging (NIRF) of arm lymphatic vessel architecture and function in BCRL and control subjects revealed a trend of increased lymphatic abnormalities in both the afflicted and unafflicted arms with increasing time after lymphedema onset. These pilot results show that BCRL may progress to affect the clinically "normal" arm, and suggest that cancer-related lymphedema may become a systemic, rather than local, malady. These findings support further study to understand the etiology of cancer-related lymphedema and lead to better diagnostics and therapeutics directed to the systemic lymphatic system.

Keywords: (110.0110) Imaging systems; (170.3880) Medical and biological imaging; (230.0230) Optical devices.