Researching lymphoedema following breast cancer in Australia: astrategic plan for improving understanding through evidence-based research

Start Year: 2008
Finish Year: 2008
Chief Investigator: Professor Janet Hiller
Grant Type: Career Development Fellowship
Institution: University of Adelaide

Think Tank

Over 12,000 Australian women are now diagnosed with breast cancer each year and approximately 20% of these women will develop lymphoedema (swelling of the arm or breast) as a consequence of undertaking treatment. Lymphoedema has significant physical and psychosocial side effects, influencing the ability to participate in daily activities and therefore overall quality of life. High-quality research supporting ways to adequately prevent and/or treat lymphoedema is lacking, as is our understanding of the contribution of certain personal, treatment and behavioural factors towards individual lymphoedema risk.

Professor Hiller aims to bring together a multidisciplinary team of researchers, clinicians and allied health professionals to discuss and identify what we know about lymphoedema following breast cancer, to highlight the limits of our understanding to identify important areas for future research and to develop a national strategic research plan. Professor Hiller will outline specific objectives relating to the measurement and diagnosis of lymphoedema, risk factor identification, prevention guidelines and optimal treatment strategies, with the results of the work being able to fill some of the gaps in our understanding of secondary lymphoedema.

Importantly, the results of this research will seek to reduce the incidence and severity of lymphoedema in Australia, develop prevention guidelines that in themselves do not adversely influence physical function and quality of life and enable earlier detection and treatment for those who develop lymphoedema following breast cancer.