Advanced pneumatic compression devices (APCD) were safe and effective for the treatment of lymphedema caused by head and neck cancer (HNC), according to results from a randomized, wait-list controlled study published in Supportive Care in Cancer.

Patients who were disease-free after completing treatment for their HNC and had lymphedema were recruited for this study. Participants were randomized to the control group (25 patients), who received standard of care self-management, or the treatment group (24 patients), who received self-management plus APCD. The treatment group were advised to use APCD twice daily.

More patients in the treatment group did not complete the study (5 vs 1) due to voluntary withdrawal (1 in treatment group; 1 in control group), noncompliance (2), exclusion criteria (1), or adverse events (1). Most patients in the treatment cohort only used APCD once per day, citing time constraints.

The APCD treatment group reported an improvement in self-reported control of lymphedema (P =.003) and facial swellings (front, P <.001; right, P =.004; left, P =.005). The control group reported an increase in pain levels whereas the treatment group reported the same pain as at baseline (P =.008).


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The investigators observed no significant difference between cohorts in neck disability index, voice handicap index, or patient-reported quality of life. No serious adverse events were reported.

A limitation of this study was the small sample sizes, especially because 5 out of the 24 patients in the treatment group were unable to complete the study.

The investigators concluded that APCD therapy was efficacious and safe. Patient perception of lymphedema and facial swellings were improved after APCD therapy.

Reference

Ridner SH, Dietrich MS, Deng J, Ettema SL, Murphy B. Advanced pneumatic compression for treatment of lymphedema of head and neck: a randomized wait-list controlled trial [published online June 2, 2020]. Support Care Cancer. doi:10.1007/s00520-020-05540-8