Influence of body mass index on the frequency of lymphedema and other complications after surgery for breast cancer
ABSTRACT Objective: this study assessed the influence of pre-operative body mass index (BMI) has upon lymphedema, scar tissue adhesion, pain, and heaviness in the upper limb at two years after surgery for breast cancer. Methods: retrospective analysis of 631 medical records of women who underwent surgery for breast cancer and were referred to the Physiotherapy Program at Prof. Dr. José Aristodemo Pinotti Women's Hospital of the Center for Integral Women's Health Care, CAISM/UNICAMP between January 2006 and December 2007. Results: mean age of women was 56.5 years (±13.7 years) and the most part (55%) were overweight or obese, surgical stages II and III were present in 63% of women studied. Radical mastectomy was the most frequent surgery (54.4%), followed by quadrantectomy (32.1%). In the first year after surgery, there was no significant association between BMI categories and incidence of scar tissue adhesion, pain, heaviness and lymphedema. In the second year, overweight and obese women had higher rates of heaviness in the upper limb and lymphedema. For lymphedema, there was a significant difference among BMI categories (p=0.0268). Obese women are 3.6 times more likely to develop lymphedema in the second year after surgery (odds ratio 3.61 95% CI 1.36 to 9.41). Conclusion: BMI ≥25kg/m2 prior to treatment for breast cancer can be considered a risk factor for developing lymphedema in the two years after surgery. There was no association between BMI and the development of other complications.