Identification, assessment and management of breast oedema after treatment for cancer
By International Journal of Palliative Nursing | 21 September 2017
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Advances in breast cancer management, including breast-conserving surgery, have resulted in an increase in the incidence of breast oedema. However, this is addressed by professionals less often than arm lymphoedema. Breast oedema results in significant physical and psychological morbidity, makes finding a comfortably fitting bra very difficult, and can act as a reminder of the initial breast cancer diagnosis. Psychological difficulties can be compounded by clinicians' failure to acknowledge the impact. Assessing and managing breast oedema requires a sensitive, skilled approach to ensure all the relevant issues are identified and addressed in a comprehensive care plan; taking time to listen to patients and acknowledging the impact can be very therapeutic. The principles of managing breast oedema are based on lymphoedema practice, particularly manual lymphatic drainage and kinesio taping. This article gives an overview of the identification, assessment and management of breast oedema following treatment of cancer.

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