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Multi-frequency Bioimpedance in the Early Detection of Lymphoedema after Axillary Surgery (BEA) Study

What is the BEA study?

Arm swelling can occur when axillary lymph nodes in the arm pit are removed during breast cancer surgery. Arm swelling is a result of fluid building up in the tissues. Arm swelling may happen immediately after surgery and/or chemotherapy, and/or radiotherapy or it can happen in the years following. The swelling may be accompanied by numbness, discomfort and sometimes in extreme cases can lead to infection. The nodes and lymph vessels that have been removed cannot be replaced.

Arm swelling can occur in some women after surgery, although it may not happen to all women. This can lead to reduced arm movement and have a negative impact on the quality of life after breast cancer surgery.  Arm swelling is a long-term condition, which means that it can be controlled but it will never go away. A recent study in the USA indicated that you have more chance of developing arm swelling if you have had anthracycline chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy after surgery. Arm swelling is difficult to treat if not detected early; therefore prevention through regular monitoring and early detection would be a better and more cost effective strategy.

Traditionally, arm circumference volume is measured to detect early swelling. For this study, we wanted to determine whether the change in arm sizes in the operated arm will tell us which patients will develop arm swelling / Lymphoedema at two years.  The trial aimed to predict who will get arm swelling at two years, so that it would then be possible to use early intervention with compression sleeves to prevent the development of arm swelling at a later stage. The trial showed Lymphoedema develops after axillary clearance (ANC) in 20-25% patients. Since the study has finished, we have lost follow-up data due to patient deaths or patients moving away.

We would like to maintain follow-up of patients who took part in the study.  Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust will use the data collected for the BEA study to link with national NHS databases via Public Health England (PHE) to collect any missing data relating to your breast cancer treatment and ongoing care.

About your personal information

For further information on how we will process your data and your rights in relation to the personal information we hold about you, please click the below link for full privacy information.

More information

For further information on the BEA study, contact the study team on:

0161 291 4495