Assessment of Measures of Head and Neck Lymphedema Following Head and Neck Cancer Treatment: A Systematic Review
Starmer, H., Cherry, M. G., Patterson, J., Young, B., and Fleming, J.
Purpose: Head and neck lymphedema is a common condition following head and neck cancer (HNC) treatment, with substantial functional morbidity. This systematic review aimed to (1) identify tools used to assess head and neck lymphedema in HNC patients and (2) determine their validity and reliability. Methods: Electronic and hand searches of Prospero, MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, and Embase were searched from their inception until April 2021, and hand searches were independently screened by two reviewers. Studies were included if they were available in English and measured lymphedema in adult HNC patients (aged ≥18 years). Data including psychometric characteristics were extracted and synthesized narratively, with the Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies-2 and the COnsensus-based Standards for the selection of health Measurement INstruments checklists used to assess risk of bias. Results: Thirty-three studies, reporting 38 assessment tools, were included. Assessments included clinician rating scales, symptom inventories, size measures, measures of internal edema, radiographic and ultrasonographic measures, and quality-of-life measures. Of the 38 measures cited, only 11 had any degree of validation and reliability testing. Risk of bias varied among the different assessment tools. Conclusion: While many tools are used in the assessment of head and neck lymphedema, the majority of these tools lack validation and reliability data. Only one tool, the Head and Neck Lymphedema and Fibrosis Symptom Inventory, met criteria for strong quality assessment. Further efforts to establish a core set of metrics for this complex condition are warranted.