The aim of this work was to study the incidence and prevalence of self-reported lymphedema in breast cancer survivors between 2 and 4 years following diagnosis, the factors associated with the development of lymphedema and the impact of lymphedema on psychological well-being. Methods: We assessed self-reported lymphedema in the BUPA Health Foundation Health and Wellbeing After Breast Cancer Study, a questionnaire-based study of 1,683 women newly diagnosed with their first episode of invasive breast cancer in Victoria, Australia. Psychological well-being was assessed using the Psychological General Well-being Index. Results: Two years after diagnosis, nearly 20 of women reported lymphedema and this proportion remained above 18 2 years later. However, self-reported lymphedema was a dynamic phenomenon, with the condition resolving in some women and others reporting onset for the first time up to 4 years from diagnosis. Lymphedema 2 years from diagnosis was positively associated with the number of nodes removed at initial surgery, although this variable only explained a small proportion of the likelihood of reporting lymphedema. The presence of lymphedema was associated with lower psychological general well-being. Conclusions: Lymphedema after breast cancer treatment frequently has a dynamic pattern and may emerge as an issue for women several years after their initial treatment. It is associated with a lower level of general well-being.
Bell, R. J., Robinson, P. J., Barallon, R., Fradkin, P., Schwarz, M. A., & Davis, S. R. (2013). Lymphedema: experience of a cohort of women with breast cancer followed for 4 years after diagnosis in Victoria, Australia. Supportive Care in Cancer, 21(7), 2017 - 2024. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-013-1763-1