Publication Abstract

Authors: Togawa K, Ma H, Sullivan-Halley J, Neuhouser ML, Imayama I, Baumgartner KB, Smith AW, Alfano CM, McTiernan A, Ballard-Barbash R, Bernstein L

Title: Risk factors for self-reported arm lymphedema among female breast cancer survivors: a prospective cohort study.

Journal: Breast Cancer Res 16(4):414-

Date: 2014 Aug 22

Abstract: INTRODUCTION: Lymphedema is a potentially debilitating condition that occurs among breast cancer survivors. This study examines the incidence of self-reported lymphedema, timing of lymphedema onset, and associations between sociodemographic, clinical and lifestyle factors and lymphedema risk across racial-ethnic groups using data from a multicenter, multiethnic prospective cohort study of breast cancer survivors, the Health, Eating, Activity and Lifestyle Study. METHODS: A total of 666 women diagnosed with breast cancer staged as in situ, localized or regional disease at ages 35 to 64 years were recruited through the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registries in New Mexico (non-Hispanic white and Hispanic white), Los Angeles County (black), and Western Washington (non-Hispanic white) and followed for a median of 10.2 years. We evaluated sociodemographic factors, breast cancer- and treatment-related factors, comorbidities, body mass index (BMI), hormonal factors, and lifestyle factors in relation to self-reported lymphedema by fitting Cox proportional hazards models, estimating hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). RESULTS: Over the follow-up period, 190 women (29%) reported lymphedema. The median time from breast cancer diagnosis to onset of lymphedema was 10.5 months (range: 0.5 to 134.9 months). Factors independently associated with lymphedema were total/modified radical mastectomy (versus partial/less than total mastectomy; HR = 1.37, 95% CI: 1.01 to 1.85), chemotherapy (versus no chemotherapy; HR = 1.48, 95% CI: 1.09 to 2.02), no lymph nodes removed (versus ≥10 lymph nodes removed; HR = 0.17, 95% CI: 0.08 to 0.33), pre-diagnostic BMI ≥30 kg/m2 (versus BMI <25 kg/m2; HR = 1.59, 95% CI: 1.09 to 2.31), and hypertension (versus no hypertension; HR = 1.49, 95% CI: 1.06 to 2.10). After adjusting for demographics and breast cancer- and treatment-related factors, no significant difference in lymphedema risk was observed across racial/ethnic groups. Analyses stratified by race/ethnicity showed that hypertension and chemotherapy were lymphedema risk factors only for black women. CONCLUSIONS: Breast cancer patients who have undergone extensive surgery or extensive lymph node dissection, or who have a higher BMI should be closely monitored for detection and treatment of lymphedema. Further studies are needed to understand the roles of chemotherapy and hypertension in the development of lymphedema.