A super-microsurgical technique called lymphaticovenular bypass represents an effective treatment alternative for breast cancer patients with lymphedema, according to researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

During the 88th annual meeting of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons, researchers shared results from a prospective analysis, which found that patients with lymphedema in their upper arm experienced reduced fluid in the swollen arm by up to 39 percent after undergoing the procedure.

According to the National Cancer Institute, 25 to 30 percent of women who have breast cancer surgery with lymph node removal and radiation therapy develop lymphedema, when lymph fluid accumulates causing chronic swelling in the upper arm upon lymph node removal or blockage. There is no cure or preventative measure for the condition.

Researchers assessed the cases of 20 breast cancer patients with stage II and III treatment-related lymphedema of the upper arm who had a lymphaticovenular bypass at M. D. Anderson from December 2005 to September 2008. 

Lymphedema caused the patients’ affected arm to swell an average of 34 percent larger than their unaffected arm prior to the surgery. Nineteen of the 20 patients reported initial significant clinical improvement following the procedure. 

In patients with postoperative volumetric analysis measurements, total mean reduction in the volume differential was 29 percent at one month, 33 at three months, 39 at six months and 25 percent at one year.

[Source: Medical News Today]