Research helps us to find out more about conditions such as lymphoedema. Researchers are looking at what reduces the risk of developing lymphoedema and different ways of managing it.
Why we need research
We have to fully research all treatments before they can become standard treatment for everyone. This is so that we can be sure they are safe and work better than the treatments we already use.
Causes and reducing the risk
We know that surgery to lymph nodes increases the risk of lymphoedema. But not everyone develops it. Research has looked into why some women get swelling after breast cancer surgery and some don’t.
Researchers also looked at genes and the risk of lymphoedema in people who had treatment for breast cancer. They have linked 4 genes to a higher risk of developing lymphoedema.
Knowing who might be at a higher risk of lymphoedema could help doctors to spot it early. Then they can start treatment earlier when it works best.
These are early findings, and we need more research to confirm it. It will be some time before tests for the genes will be available.
Research into managing lymphoedema in breast cancer
Researchers are looking at different ways to manage lymphoedema.
A study team found that reflexology was a useful treatment for lymphoedema after breast cancer surgery. It reduced swelling and pain in the affected arm and improved quality of life.
Another study is looking into whether wearing a compression sleeve might help prevent lymphoedema.