Current Issue - May/June 2019 - Vol 22 Issue 3


  1. 2019;22;255-263Comparison Between the Effectiveness of Complex Decongestive Therapy and Stellate Ganglion Block in Patients with Breast Cancer-Related Lymphedema: A Randomized Controlled Study
    Randomized Trial
    Myung Woo Park, MD, Shi-Uk Lee, MD, PhD, Sohyun Kwon, MD, and Kwan Sik Seo, MD, PhD.

BACKGROUND: Breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL) of the upper extremities often follows breast cancer treatment. Although complex decongestive therapy (CDT) is currently the standard treatment for BCRL, stellate ganglion block (SGB) has also been reported to be effective.

OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to determine the effectiveness of SGB in the treatment of BCRL, and to assess the impact of the treatment on the quality of life (QoL) compared to CDT.

STUDY DESIGN: A randomized controlled trial.

SETTING: A single academic hospital, outpatient setting.

METHODS: A total of 38 patients with BCRL were recruited. Patients were randomly divided into 2 groups. Patients enrolled in the CDT group underwent 10 sessions of CDT for 2 weeks, whereas patients in the SGB group received 3 consecutive SGBs every 2 weeks. Changes in circumference, volume, and bioimpedance in the upper extremity were measured at baseline and 2 weeks after treatment and compared between the 2 groups. EuroQol-5 dimensions (EQ-5D) and EuroQol visual analog scale (EQ VAS) for QoL and subjective improvement were monitored.

RESULTS: In both groups, side-to-side difference of circumference after the treatment was decreased significantly from baseline (P < 0.05), and side-to-side difference of volume was reduced significantly in the SGB group (P < 0.05). No statistically significant difference was noted in the treatment effect between the 2 groups. Results of the EQ-5D, EQ VAS, and questionnaires regarding subjective symptoms administered at baseline and 2 weeks after each intervention revealed no statistically significant difference in the treatment effects between CDT and SGB.

LIMITATIONS: Further long-term follow-up studies with a greater number of patients that include analysis according to the severity and duration of symptoms are needed.

CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study suggest that SGB is an effective treatment for BCRL and may be considered as an alternative to CDT.

KEY WORDS: Stellate ganglion block, complex decongestive therapy, breast cancer, lymphedema, breast cancer-related lymphedema, quality of life, bioimpedance, secondary lymphedema