Context: Breast cancer-related lymphedema (LE) remains one of the major long-term complications after surgery. Many reports showed the effectiveness of compression in breast cancer-related LE treatment, but randomized controlled trials evaluating compression garments for postoperative prevention are lacking.
Objectives: The aim of the study was to evaluate the potential role of light arm compression sleeves for reducing the incidence of early postoperative swelling and of breast cancer-related arm LE.
Methods: A total of 45 women were pre-operatively randomly assigned to a group with compression of circular-knit sleeves in compression class I (15-21 mm Hg) for daily wearing (compression group [CG]; n = 23) or to a control group without compression (no CG, n = 22). Both groups underwent a standardized physical exercise program. Arm volumes were measured before surgery and one, three, six, nine, and 12 months thereafter.
Results: At one month, postoperative swelling was reduced only in CG. After 12 months, the average change of excess volumes (edema) reached -67.6 mL in the CG vs. +114.5 mL in the no CG (P < 0.001). Significantly less edema was seen in the CG after three, six, nine, and 12 months. No significant difference between groups in health-related quality of life (measured by EORTC QLQ-C30) was observed.
Conclusion: Fifteen to 21 mm Hg compression sleeves in combination with physical activity may be a safe and efficient option to prevent postsurgical arm swelling and development of LE.
Keywords: BRCL; arm lymphedema; compression; physical exercises; prevention.
Copyright © 2017 American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.