The Importance of Awareness and Education in Patients with Breast Cancer-Related Lymphedema


JOURNAL OF CANCER EDUCATION, vol.32, no.3, pp.629-633, 2017 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 32 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s13187-016-1026-1
  • Page Numbers: pp.629-633


Upper extremity lymphedema occurs in one of five women after breast cancer treatment and causes significant morbidity. Women often report being uninformed regarding awareness of lymphedema and other side effects after the cancer surgery. The aim of the study was to assess the postoperative information and education about lymphedema in patients with lymphedema related to breast cancer surgery in the rehabilitation unit of a tertiary hospital. One hundred eighty patients who had admitted to lymphedema rehabilitation unit between September 2013 and February 2015 were recruited to the study. The demographic properties of women, duration, and grade of lymphedema were recorded. The patients were asked whether they had received any information about awareness of lymphedema or whether they have been educated for reducement of the risk of lymphedema after the breast cancer surgery. One hundred eighty women with a mean age of 52.9 +/- 10.7 years (27-53) and with a mean lymphedema duration of 19.8 +/- + 39.4 months were included. Ninety-eight (54.4 %) patients had grade 1, 80 (44.4 %) patients had grade 2, and 2 (1.11 %) patients had grade 3 lymphedema. Among the participants, only 35 (19.5 %) had reported that they had received information or education about lymphedema. One hundred forty-five patients (80.5 %) were not informed or trained about the development of lymphedema. The degree and duration of lymphedema were lower in patients that had been informed or educated about lymphedema as compared to the patients who had not been informed or educated, but the difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.052). Only a minor group of patients (19 %) had received information and education about lymphedema and there is an unmet need for education or information about lymphedema after breast cancer treatment, especially in developing countries. The nonsignificant correlation between education and the degree and duration of lymphedema was thought to be related with the incongrous numbers of the subgroups. In conclusion with the growing population of breast cancer survivors, patient awareness and education about postoperative lymphedema risk after the cancer surgery is warranted.