Development in self-reported arm-lymphedema in Danish women treated for early-stage breast cancer in 2005 and 2006--a nationwide follow-up study

Breast. 2014 Aug;23(4):445-52. doi: 10.1016/j.breast.2014.03.001. Epub 2014 Apr 8.


The main purpose of this nationwide follow-up study was to examine the development of self-reported lymphedema in the population of women with early-stage breast cancer in Denmark. In 2008 and 2012 two identical questionnaires were sent to the women aged 18-70 years treated for unilateral primary breast cancer in 2005 and 2006. 2293 women (87%) reported on lymphedema in 2008 and 2012. Overall 37% reported lymphedema in 2008 while 31% reported lymphedema in 2012 and severity of symptoms decreased. 50% of women treated with SLNB and reporting lymphedema in 2008 did not report symptoms by 2012 in contrast to 30% treated with ALND. However, 19% of women treated with ALND and not reporting lymphedema in 2008 had developed lymphedema by 2012. In conclusion lymphedema remains a frequent problem, years after treatment for breast cancer, though, number of women reporting lymphedema and overall severity of symptoms decreased.

Keywords: Associated factors; Breast cancer; Development; Lymphedema; Prevalence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arm
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lymph Node Excision*
  • Lymphedema / epidemiology*
  • Mastectomy*
  • Mastectomy, Segmental
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prevalence
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Self Report
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Young Adult