Pilot Study: The Effectiveness of Complex Decongestive Therapy for Lymphedema in Palliative Care Patients with Advanced Cancer.
AffiliationMilford Care Centre, Limerick
Complex decongestive therapy
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CitationPilot Study: The Effectiveness of Complex Decongestive Therapy for Lymphedema in Palliative Care Patients with Advanced Cancer. 2017 J Palliat Med
JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
AbstractComplex decongestive therapy (CDT) is a regimen of physical treatment for lymphedema. Its effectiveness is unknown in advanced cancer patients. This study evaluates effectiveness of CDT in this population.
This is a prospective observational cohort study for 18 months of advanced cancer patients with lymphedema, who received three or more CDT interventions. Measurements were taken before the first (T1), third (T3), and sixth (T6) treatments as follows: limb volume using circumferential measurements, quality of life (QOL) using qualitative questions, skin quality using a locally developed scale measuring color, thickness, and texture. The treating physiotherapists collected data. Analysis was carried out using Microsoft Excel and SPSS.
Twelve patients, age range 42-73 years (median 69.5) were included. Survival from last recorded treatment ranged from 3 to 262 days (median 40). At T3 (n = 21 limbs), volume reduction was significant (Wilcoxin Signed Rank Test Z = -2.5, p = 0.01, r = 0.5). At T6 (n = 13 limbs), volume reduction was significant (Z = -2.4, p = 0.013, r = 0.66). At both time points, there were significant reductions in abnormal skin thickness and surface, but not color. Improvements occurred independent of volume changes. QOL changes included better function, improved limb aesthetics, and less pain and tightness.
For the first time, this study shows that CDT is effective for a cohort of palliative cancer patients with limited survival. Improvements in limb volume, skin quality, and lymphedema-related QOL were recorded. Valid skin and QOL measures need to be developed. Larger, blinded trials need to be conducted to determine which patients benefit from CDT.
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