There’s always something going on in the world of lymphedema and lymphatic research! It can be a lot to keep up with, so here’s a digest of some of the latest headlines from the past week carefully curated to keep you in the lymphie loop.
“Quickly reporting cancer complications may boost survival”
Earlier studies suggest that doctors miss about half of patients’ symptoms, but that may change following the results of a recent study.
The study involved 766 people being treated for various advanced cancers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, with one group given the usual care and the other an online symptom reporting tool. Using the online tool, patients were able to report symptoms and complications to their providers as they experienced them.
Six months later, researchers found that health-related quality of life had improved for many in the online group, with fewer trips to the emergency room and longer stays on chemotherapy. With quicker and easier symptom reporting, patients were able to have their symptoms addressed sooner and more proactively, thus increasing survival by almost half a year: median survival in the online group was 31 months, versus 26 months for the other group.
“I was floored by the results,” said the study leader, Dr. Ethan Basch.
“Less dietary salt is coming from packaged foods these days”
A recent study suggests that packaged foods and store-bought beverages don’t contain as much sodium as they once did, although the amounts of sodium are still well above the recommended daily intake.
Too much sodium increases blood pressure by drawing water from the body into the blood vessels and can lead to serious health problems. Us lymphies need to be especially mindful of our sodium intake, as high amounts can have adverse effects on our lymphedema and exacerbate swelling.
“Households are getting less sodium from the grocery store, but I think it’s important to know sodium in packaged foods is still way too high,” said lead author Jennifer Poti, of the Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “So we have a long way to go.”
“Small wearable devices may lead to big health care savings”
Digitizing health and fitness data collected through wearable technology (such as FitBit, Apple Watch, etc.) may be able to help Americans living with chronic conditions better monitor their health while also reducing the cost of health care.
The use of these devices as an incentive by employers, insurance companies, and health care providers has its pros and cons, but one thing is clear: the digital health care revolution is upon us!
“Engineering a new cancer detection tool”
Studying the food poisoning bacteria E. coli may have led scientists to discover a new tool to detect a wide range of cancers, including breast and ovarian cancer.
The bacteria targets tumor antigens, which are substances produced by tumor cells that are recognized markers for cancer detection and diagnosis.
“We were very surprised at how well the engineering of this protein worked and we were able to remove the binding characteristics that were useless in a diagnostic sense and re-engineer it to make it totally specific for the tumor antigen target,” said Professor Jennings from Griffith University’s Institute for Glycomics.
“Study: Common surgical treatment for melanoma does not improve patients’ overall survival”
A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests completion lymph node dissection may not be necessary for patients with melanoma.
Researchers found the extensive surgery does not translate into longer lives, and instead carries a higher risk of complications: nearly 25% of the patients who underwent the completion dissections suffered from lymphedema, compared with about 6% of the control group.
“The new findings likely will result in many fewer of these procedures being performed around the world,” said the study’s lead author, Mark B. Faries, MD, co-director of the Melanoma Program and head of Surgical Oncology at The Angeles Clinic and Research Institute, an affiliate of Cedars-Sinai. “The results also will likely affect the design of many current and future clinical trials of medical therapies in melanoma.”
Completion lymph node dissection will remain an option for some patients, Faries said, but it will no longer be the only “standard” option.
“Extended PLND Not Associated With Short-Term Oncologic Benefits”
According to findings from a recent trial, extended pelvic lymph node dissection (ePLND) is not associated with short-term oncologic benefits compared with limited dissection in patients with intermediate- and high-risk prostate cancer without bone metastasis.
Researchers found that patients who underwent ePLND had significantly increased operation time, blood loss, transfusion rate, postoperative complications, and length of hospital stay compared to those who underwent limited pelvic lymph node dissection (lPLND).
ePLND does not improve biochemical recurrence rates, although it is associated with better tumor staging, revealing 6.3 times more lymph node metastases compared with lPLND.
Edit 06.12.2017 / 12:10 EST: A note from Alexa
Hello, all! I received some feedback concerned that this Research Roundup was focused primarily on cancer rather than lymphedema, and I wanted to address it because it is a valid concern that I hear a lot.
Living with primary lymphedema, I totally understand the frustration of sifting through research trying to find topics that are relevant to my experience. Every morning I make a cup of coffee and read through medical news looking for articles to share with the community, but sometimes there’s just not any new lymphedema-specific research to report. There is, however, a great deal of cancer research, and because there exists a lot of overlap between cancer and lymphedema, I think it’s important to share those articles just as much as the lymphatic ones.
Many acquire lymphedema as a result of cancer surgeries and lymph node dissections, so my hope is to make new research accessible not only to those members of our community but also to those at-risk for developing lymphedema, who may use the new research to inform their decisions concerning their own cancer treatment. Hopefully the next Research Roundup will have more lymphedema-specific news to include — I’m always keeping my fingers crossed!
I appreciate your feedback and your readership, everybody! I have some great posts coming up on the website and will continue to report lymphedema-related news best I can for you and our incredible community. Be well and #StayElevated! 💙