Breast Lymphoedema: Are we missing it? by Jane Gauld and Mary Woods
•Breast lymphoedema can occur following treatment for breast cancer but is poorly acknowledged, reported and managed in clinical practice. According to the literature between 40-49% of women who underwent axillary surgery (SLNB or ALND) developed breast oedema (Degnim et al 2012, Boughey et al 2014).
•Our service noticed an increase in referrals for patients with breast swelling. We also noted an increase in women presenting with arm swelling with co-existent, undiagnosed breast lymphoedema raising the potential issue that we were missing some patients with breast lymphoedema.
•The increased size of one breast can be distressing and lead to body image and clothing concerns (Linnitt and Young 2007).
Aim of Service Development
•To improve the diagnosis of breast lymphoedema by raising awareness within the medical teams and to encourage early referral.
•To ensure patients are aware they are at risk of breast lymphoedema and to seek advice when noticed.
•To improve documentation and to establish a clear management pathway for breast lymphoedema.
To provide clear patient information for on-going self management