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Breast-Cancer-Related Lymphedema: Information, Symptoms, and Risk-Reduction Behaviors

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Purpose: To explore the effect of providing lymphedema information on breast cancer survivors' symptoms and practice of risk-reduction behaviors.

Design: A cross-sectional design was used to obtain data from 136 breast-cancer survivors in New York City from August 2006 to May 2007. Descriptive statistics, t tests, chi-square tests, and correlations were calculated.

Methods: Data were collected using a demographic and medical information interview tool, two questions regarding status of receiving lymphedema information, the Lymphedema and Breast Cancer Questionnaire, and Lymphedema Risk-Reduction Behavior Checklist.

Findings: Fifty-seven percent of the participants reported that they received lymphedema information. On average, participants had three lymphedema-related symptoms. Only 18% of participants were free of symptoms. Participants who received information reported significantly fewer symptoms (t=3.03; p<0.00) and practicing more risk-reduction behaviors (t=2.42; p=0.01).

Conclusions: Providing lymphedema information has an effect on symptom reduction and more risk-reduction behaviors being practiced among breast cancer survivors.

Clinical Relevance: In clinical practice, nurses and other healthcare professionals could consider taking the initiative to provide adequate and accurate information and engage breast-cancer survivors in supportive dialogues concerning lymphedema risk-reduction.
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Keywords: breast-cancer-related lymphedema; risk-reduction behaviors; symptoms

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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