Cancer Truth Note: #65
Research shows that breast cancer survivors who do not receive baseline measurements before surgery and/or treatment are UNDER DIAGNOSED for breast cancer related lymphedema (BCRL) up to 50% of the time.
What does that even mean? When we screen for BCRL we take circumference measurements of both arms. I usually do 4cm increments, some providers do 10cm. This means from your wrist to your armpit or axilla, we mark 4cm or 10cm distances and at each mark measure the arm with a tape measure. These measures are recorded and from this we can estimate the volume of each arm. We can also see which arm is larger and by how much. It is normal to have differences one side to the other, especially if the side treated for cancer is your dominant arm.
If you do not receive a baseline measurement before surgery or treatment we are left to compare arms without knowing what differences existed before your treatments. In my case, my right side is dominant and my left side was affected by cancer. So my left arm being larger than my right is an obvious problem, however, we will never know what the actual difference pre/post treatment is because there were no baseline measures done. If my left arm was significantly smaller than my right before surgery my BCRL may be more severe than it appears when comparing it to that stronger/dominant arm resulting in an under-reporting of BCRL incidence. Pre-surgery/pre-treatment screening can be a game changer for our understanding of BCRL.
Did you get screened for BCRL before surgery? Do you know someone getting ready for breast cancer treatment or surgery who should know about the benefits of BCRL screening?
Checkout the Podcast
Cancer Truth Note: #365 Seven years ago today I finished chemo. Then I learned that treatment is not the end of the journey. Surviving is JUST the beginning. I really thought, “GREAT. I am done with this part. I should be back to full strength in 3 weeks and be fine...
Cancer Truth Note: #364 Remember depression, anxiety, fear of recurrence, and other mental health challenges are common side effects for cancer survivors. These may show up more strongly as the days get shorter and colder here in the northern hemisphere. If you are...
Cancer Truth Note: #363 We don’t always see the impacts cancer treatments are having on us clearly, but most of the time if something is off you know it. Maybe tasks that were easy are now harder to process. Maybe your memory is not working like it used to. Maybe you...