Turkish Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2010 , Vol 56 , Num 3
Demographic and Clinical Characteristics of Patients with Breast Cancer-Related Lymphedema
Sibel Ünsal Delialioğlu 1 ,Meltem Aras 2 ,Emine Eda Kurt 3 ,Sumru Özel 4
1 Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Ankara Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Training and Research Hospital, Ankara, Turkey
2 Ankara Fizik Tedavi ve Rehabilitasyon Eğitim ve Araştırma Hastanesi, Ankara, Türkiye
3 Rize Training and Research Hospital, Clinic of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Rize, Turkey
4 Clinic of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Ankara Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Training and Research Hospital, Ankara, Turkey
DOI : 10.4274/tftr.56.124

Objective: This study aims to demonstrate demographic and clinical properties of patients referred to our oncologic rehabilitation unit with the diagnosis of breast cancer-related lymphedema. 
 

Materials and Method: Fifty-seven women were evaluated. Demographics, pathological diagnosis, treatments, number of dissected and metastatic nodes were recorded. Pain, numbness, heaviness, and functional loss were sought. Circumferential limb measurements were used in the assessment of lymphedema. The patients were divided into two groups: Group 1 -  with grade 1 lymphedema (reversible lymphedema, n=20) and Group 2 – with grade 2-3 lymphedema (irreversible lymphedema, n=37).  
 

Results: The mean age was 50.92±10.58 years and the mean postoperative period  was 25.61±16.01 (4-72) months. The problems associated with lymphedema, such as sense of heaviness in the affected limb (n=25), pain (n=47), numbness (n=19), and functional loss (n=25), were observed. Circumferential measurements of the limb showed positive correlations with the body mass index (p<0.05). 
 

Conclusion: Lymphedema is one of the major causes of morbidity in breast cancer patients. It might result in pain, numbness, sense of heaviness, and functional loss. Obesity is an important risk factor for lymphedema.  Patient lymphedema education as well as defining and controlling the risk factors are of importance in the prevention of lymphedema. 

Keywords : Breast cancer, lymphedema, risk factors