Breast cancer and lymphedema: a current overview for the healthcare provider

Womens Health (Lond). 2010 May;6(3):399-406. doi: 10.2217/whe.10.21.


Lymphedema is a troublesome condition faced by many breast cancer survivors today. Since lymphedema represents a debilitating and progressive problem that is feared by most breast cancer patients and their providers, an up-to-date understanding is necessary in order to better diagnose, treat and manage these patients. The etiology of lymphedema is multifactorial and poorly understood. Although lymphedema is not clearly defined within the medical community, there are several diagnostic tools available to the clinician, of which the most widely accepted in the clinical setting are the arm circumference measurements. Misinformation has recently been conveyed regarding activity recommendations for those patients afflicted with lymphedema. These recent events highlight the critical importance of education, heightened awareness and dedicated future cooperative research in order to favorably impact on lymphedema care and the quality of life for those living with lymphedema.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Breast Neoplasms / complications*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Lymphedema / diagnosis
  • Lymphedema / etiology*
  • Lymphedema / therapy
  • Mastectomy / adverse effects*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survivors