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Tuesday, May 5, 2020 - 12:45pm

Mercy College is proud to share that Assistant Professor Kathryn Ryans, PT, DPT, along with two Mercy alumni, Caroline Lambe ’15 and Morgan Henninge ‘15, were published in the Supportive Care in Cancer academic journal for their formative study on breast cancer rehabilitation. The retrospective study identifies the factors that may predict axillary web syndrome (AWS), a side effect of breast cancer treatment, as well as the likelihood that AWS patients will develop lymphedema.

In addition to her role as assistant professor, Ryans is a Board-Certified clinical specialist in oncologic physical therapy who commonly treats breast cancer patients. She has seen the effects of AWS first-hand, a condition that develops after the removal of lymph nodes located under the armpits and can cause limited mobility in the affected arm. Lymphedema, caused by damage to the lymph nodes, has also occurred in her breast cancer patients who first exhibited AWS.

Ryans began this study in 2013 to help improve physical therapy and rehabilitation practices for breast cancer patients at risk for AWS and lymphedema. “If we can identify the patients more at risk for AWS and the development of lymphedema, then we can more aptly monitor their symptoms, treat issues that arise and help prevent further impairment,” Ryans explained.

In the study, data, such as gender, age and body mass index, was collected on 354 patients treated for breast cancer. The Mercy alumni, Lambe and Henninge, were integral in the data collection process and statistical analysis that led to the study’s conclusion. Ultimately, the study determined that participants over the age of 60 were 73 percent more likely to develop AWS, and women with AWS had a 44 percent greater risk to develop lymphedema during the first post-operative year.

Ryans looks forward to presenting her research to her colleagues in the future, as well as integrating the lessons learned from the study into her Mercy classroom. “I hope by sharing my research experience, students are encouraged to follow evidence-based practices throughout their careers and that they’re inspired to question the status quo and conduct their own research,” said Ryans.

To read the article, please click here.