Current Diagnostic Tools for Breast Cancer-Related Lymphedema

Curr Oncol Rep. 2023 Mar;25(3):151-154. doi: 10.1007/s11912-023-01357-w. Epub 2023 Jan 25.


Purpose of review: Breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL) can have a significant impact on breast cancer survivors quality of life. The purpose of this review is to evaluate diagnostic tools for the assessment of BCRL.

Recent findings: Multiple BCRL diagnostic tools are available, though older diagnostic tools have low sensitivity, limiting the ability for sub-clinical BCRL diagnosis while BIS and perometry have increased sensitivity and the ability to diagnose BCRL sub-clinically. Prospective studies have demonstrated such an approach coupled to early intervention is associated with low rates of chronic BCRL while a recently published randomized trial demonstrated that prospective surveillance with BIS coupled with early intervention reduced rates of chronic BCRL as compared to circumference measurements with compression garments. Prospective and randomized data support the use of prospective surveillance for BCRL. The strongest data available comes from the PREVENT trial and supports prospective BCRL surveillance with bioimpedance spectroscopy coupled to early intervention with a compression sleeve.

Keywords: Bioimpedance spectroscopy; Breast cancer; Circumference measurements; Diagnostic tools; Lymphedema; Perometry.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Cancer Lymphedema* / complications
  • Breast Cancer Lymphedema* / diagnosis
  • Breast Cancer Lymphedema* / prevention & control
  • Breast Neoplasms* / complications
  • Cancer Survivors*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life