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Search for Research

"Lymphedema has been an understudied adverse effect of cancer treatment.”

J Clinical Oncology, 11/10/08, Paskett



Breast Cancer–Related Lymphedema: Attention to a Significant Problem Resulting From Cancer Diagnosis
Electra D. Paskett

Unfortunately, there are relatively few studies on lymphedema, despite how common it is, and that is likely due to the fact that there are no drugs or surgeries to treat it. In this country, medical research is either sponsored through grants which are usually federal, or through drug companies.

How to search for Lymphedema Research:

First: how to read medical literature: you’ll want recent studies, and the “gold standard” is a double blind placebo controlled trial—where one half the enrolled people got treatment and the others only got placebo. But, in lymphedema that kind of study is rarely done, more often a group of patents are given a treatment and they are observed.  The best studies are done on large numbers of patients, with clear clinical outcomes measured and they are followed for the longest possible period of time. For example: the only study on the laser involved 64 women and half got one set of treatment, and half got two (so no real placebo here) and after 6 months, the group with two treatments had an average of a 33% reduction in the sizes of their arms. Ideally, you would want to follow these women for as long as possible to judge if the treatment lasted and if any side effects developed.

It’s intimidating to read medical literature: all sorts of statistics are thrown at you, and they can be confusing. And, often just reading the abstract will hide the flaws in the study. But studies are good places to find information.

1.  PubMed: PubMed is a database of clinical studies and will give you access to abstracts. Full articles usually have to be purchased.

How to use PubMed: go to the home page: PubMed

On that page you can search using words: a good search is specific and using the words lymphedema, breast cancer will bring up a list of articles. When you click on the article, it will bring up the abstract, and on the right side of the page there are lists of similar articles. A recent search using those three words brought up 1102 articles, including several that were being published in the next week.

2.  Other features on the PubMed site:

On the left hand side of the site are two useful features: “Clinical Queries” and “Clinical” Clinical queries will narrow the article search to only articles that deal with treatment.

Clincial Trials will allow you to search for clinical trials on lymphedema. Not all trials are listed on this page, but it is a good place to start a search.

3.  Other resources:

The National Lymphedema Network publishes newsletters and provides articles, full information is available to members.

The Lymphedema Research Foundation:

Information from other sites:

Lymphedema Research Centers

Lymphedema Clinical Trials

MU Study Identifies Patient Strategies for Managing Symptoms of Lymphedema

4.  Free On-Line Medical Journals: The Oncology Times is a free on-line journal that is a mix of interviews and articles, and can provide good information:

5. Finding a Clinical Trial.  Clicking on this link will take you to a page from the American Society of Clinical Oncology with several resources: TrialCheck, CenterWatch, EmergingMed Navigator, National Cancer Institute Clinical Trials, along with advice on how to network to find a trial.

No one place lists all clinical trials, so a Google search, a search of the government database—both general and National Cancer Institute, and ask if your oncologist can help find clinical trials

Here is a clinical trial in Vermont:

Research is both published articles and on-going investigations. You will want to search PubMed for published articles and since there is no single site for all clinical trials, a search of several sites, and emailing clinical investigators who may know about other research will help.

Internet information can be of variable quality and being your own researcher can be confusing: when in doubt, discuss the information you find with your healthcare team.


Page Last Modified 09/29/2015

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