Oncology Nurses Can Help Better Prevent Chronic Lymphedema With BIS Technology


Sheila Ridner, PhD, RN, FAAN, discusses the implications of the PREVENT study and how oncology nurses can advocate for patients with breast cancer.

Bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS) allows oncology nurses to be more proactive in managing subclinical lymphedema, according to Sheila Ridner, PhD, RN, FAAN.

Ridner, a research professor at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, was co-principal investigator in the PREVENT study (NCT02167659), which found patients who received compression intervention after assessment with BIS were less likely to develop lymphedema compared with those who received compression intervention after assessment with tape measure. The percentage of patients who developed lymphedema in these 2 populations were 7.9% and 19.2%, respectively (P = .016)

These findings suggest that the oncology care team can leverage outcomes by proactively identifying and managing this adverse event without necessarily involving lymphedema specialists, explains Ridner.

“Nurses and research assistants did the measurements in the study,” she said. “We have [shown] that the cancer treatment team can do the initial diagnosis and we can have the nurses or research aids fit the patients for the garment and run that 30-day intervention.”

“That's important because there is a shortage of trained lymphedema therapists,” Ridner explained. “Now we know that multidisciplinary breast cancer teams can do this short-term intervention [along with] surveillance; if you can get the right people to do the right pieces of patient care, then you can take some of the stress off some of the highly burdened lymphedema clinics.”

However, implementing BIS technology will start with nurse education and advocacy, she noted.

“Nurses are the advocates for patients in this world,” she concluded. “Now [we] have an evidence base that they can use to become informed advocates.”

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