Air travel and upper limb lymphoedema: what advice should patients be given?
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Air travel and upper limb lymphoedema: what advice should patients be given?

Mary Woods Clinical nurse specialist and head of Lymphoedema Services, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, London
Julie Smith Lymphoedema therapist, Working in the Lymphoedema Services, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, London
Fiona Cameron Clinical nurse specialist, University College London
Denise Claughton Lymphoedema therapist, Working in the Lymphoedema Services, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, London

In Western countries, lymphoedema develops most commonly as a result of cancer treatment. As the risk of developing lymphoedema in these circumstances is lifelong, adaptive behaviours are necessary for the duration of a patient’s life. Given that air travel is a relatively common activity in the modern world, consideration must be given to the relatively decreased pressure inside an aeroplane cabin that may affect the return of lymphatic fluid in a patient’s arm. However, those at risk of upper limb lymphoedema following breast cancer treatment can receive conflicting advice regarding the care of their arm during air travel. This paper critically reviews two key, but contrasting, articles on this topic, and presents the results of a small questionnaire of lymphoedema therapists before concluding with proposed implications for practice.

Cancer Nursing Practice. 7, 9,29-33. doi: 10.7748/cnp2008.11.7.9.29.c6774

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