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      Effectiveness of early physiotherapy to prevent lymphoedema after surgery for breast cancer: randomised, single blinded, clinical trial

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          Objective To determine the effectiveness of early physiotherapy in reducing the risk of secondary lymphoedema after surgery for breast cancer.

          Design Randomised, single blinded, clinical trial.

          Setting University hospital in Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain.

          Participants 120 women who had breast surgery involving dissection of axillary lymph nodes between May 2005 and June 2007.

          Intervention The early physiotherapy group was treated by a physiotherapist with a physiotherapy programme including manual lymph drainage, massage of scar tissue, and progressive active and action assisted shoulder exercises. This group also received an educational strategy. The control group received the educational strategy only.

          Main outcome measure Incidence of clinically significant secondary lymphoedema (>2 cm increase in arm circumference measured at two adjacent points compared with the non-affected arm).

          Results 116 women completed the one year follow-up. Of these, 18 developed secondary lymphoedema (16%): 14 in the control group (25%) and four in the intervention group (7%). The difference was significant (P=0.01); risk ratio 0.28 (95% confidence interval 0.10 to 0.79). A survival analysis showed a significant difference, with secondary lymphoedema being diagnosed four times earlier in the control group than in the intervention group (intervention/control, hazard ratio 0.26, 95% confidence interval 0.09 to 0.79).

          Conclusion Early physiotherapy could be an effective intervention in the prevention of secondary lymphoedema in women for at least one year after surgery for breast cancer involving dissection of axillary lymph nodes.

          Trial registration Current controlled trials ISRCTN95870846.

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          Most cited references 36

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          An overview of prognostic factors for long-term survivors of breast cancer

          Background Numerous studies have examined prognostic factors for survival of breast cancer patients, but relatively few have dealt specifically with 10+-year survivors. Methods A review of the PubMed database from 1995 to 2006 was undertaken with the following inclusion criteria: median/mean follow-up time at least 10 years; overall survival and/or disease-specific survival known; and relative risk and statistical probability values reported. In addition, we used data from the long-standing Eindhoven Cancer Registry to illustrate survival probability as indicated by various prognostic factors. Results 10-year breast cancer survivors showed 90% 5-year relative survival. Tumor size, nodal status and grade remained the most important prognostic factors for long-term survival, although their role decreased over time. Most studies agreed on the long-term prognostic values of MI (mitotic index), LVI (lymphovascular invasion), Her2-positivity, gene profiling and comorbidity for either all or a subgroup of breast cancer patients (node-positive or negative). The roles of age, socioeconomic status, histological type, BRCA and p53 mutation were mixed, often decreasing after correction for stronger prognosticators, thus limiting their clinical value. Local and regional recurrence, metastases and second cancer may substantially impair long-term survival. Healthy lifestyle was consistently related to lower overall mortality. Conclusions Effects of traditional prognostic factors persist in the long term and more recent factors need further follow-up. The prognosis for breast cancer patients who have survived at least 10 years is favourable and increases over time. Improved long-term survival can be achieved by earlier detection, more effective modern therapy and healthier lifestyle.
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            Annual report to the nation on the status of cancer, 1975-2000, featuring the uses of surveillance data for cancer prevention and control.

            The American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) collaborate annually to update cancer rates and trends in the United States. This report updates statistics on lung, female breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers and highlights the uses of selected surveillance data to assist development of state-based cancer control plans. Age-adjusted incidence rates from 1996 through 2000 are from state and metropolitan area cancer registries that met NAACCR criteria for highest quality. Death rates are based on underlying cause-of-death data. Long-term trends and rates for major racial and ethnic populations are based on NCI and CDC data. Incidence trends from 1975 through 2000 were adjusted for reporting delays. State-specific screening and risk factor survey data are from the CDC and other federal and private organizations. Cancer incidence rates for all cancer sites combined increased from the mid-1970s through 1992 and then decreased from 1992 through 1995. Observed incidence rates for all cancers combined were essentially stable from 1995 through 2000, whereas the delay-adjusted trend showed an increase that had borderline statistical significance (P =.05). Increases in the incidence rates of breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men offset a long-term decrease in lung cancer in men. Death rates for all cancer sites combined decreased beginning in 1994 and stabilized from 1998 through 2000, resulting in part from recent revisions in cause-of-death codes. Death rates among men continued to decline throughout the 1990s, whereas trends in death rates among women were essentially unchanged from 1998 through 2000. Analysis of state data for the leading cancers revealed mixed progress in achieving national objectives for improving cancer screening, risk factor reduction, and decreases in mortality. Overall cancer incidence and death rates began to stabilize in the mid- to late 1990s. The recent increase in the delay-adjusted trend will require monitoring with additional years of data. Further reduction in the burden of cancer is possible but will require the continuation of strong federal, state, local, and private partnerships to increase dissemination of evidence-based cancer control programs to all segments of the population.
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              Preoperative assessment enables the early diagnosis and successful treatment of lymphedema.

              The incidence of breast cancer (BC)-related lymphedema (LE) ranges from 7% to 47%. Successful management of LE relies on early diagnosis using sensitive measurement techniques. In the current study, the authors demonstrated the effectiveness of a surveillance program that included preoperative limb volume measurement and interval postoperative follow-up to detect and treat subclinical LE. LE was identified in 43 of 196 women who participated in a prospective BC morbidity trial. Limb volume was measured preoperatively and at 3-month intervals after surgery. If an increase>3% in upper limb (UL) volume developed compared with the preoperative volume, then a diagnosis of LE was made, and a compression garment intervention was prescribed for 4 weeks. Upon reduction of LE, garment wear was continued only during strenuous activity, with symptoms of heaviness, or with visible swelling. Women returned to the 3-month interval surveillance pathway. Statistical analysis was a repeated-measures analysis of variance by time and limb (P

                Author and article information

                Role: professor of physiotherapy
                Role: professor of physiotherapy
                Role: professor of obstetrics and gynaecology
                Role: lecturer
                Role: professor of physiotherapy
                Role: research fellow
                Role: research fellow
                BMJ : British Medical Journal
                BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.
                12 January 2010
                : 340
                [1 ]Physiotherapy Department, School of Physiotherapy, Alcalá de Henares University, E-28871 Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain
                [2 ]Príncipe de Asturias University Hospital, Alcalá de Henares, Madrid
                [3 ]Medical Statistics Unit, Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London
                [4 ]Physiotherapy Department, Provincial Hospital, Toledo, Spain
                Author notes
                Correspondence to: M Torres Lacomba maria.torres@ 123456uah.es
                © Torres Lacomba et al 2010

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/ and http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode.

                Clinical trials (epidemiology)
                Immunology (including allergy)
                Breast cancer
                Sports and exercise medicine
                Surgical oncology



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