Mirolo BR, Bunce IH, Chapman M, Olsen T, Eliadis P,
Hennessy JM, Ward LC, Jones LC.
Psychosocial benefits of postmastectomy lymphedema therapy.
Cancer Nurs 1995 Jun;18(3):197-205

Wesley Clinic for Haematology and Oncology, Wesley Medical Centre, Brisbane, Australia.

The effect of a comprehensive lymphedema management program was assessed in 25
patients in whom moderate to severe lymphedema had developed after surgery and/or
radiotherapy for carcinoma of the breast. Intensive treatment (4 weeks) involved
massage, compression bandaging, and sequential pneumatic compression, with an
adjunct program of education to provide skills in exercise, massage, bandage, and
containment garment use. The intensive treatment phase was followed by a
self-management phase based on the skills that had been acquired. A significant
reduction in limb circumference and volume, with continuing improvement over 12
months of self-management, was observed. There was a decrease in need for
physical assistance. Quality of life generally remained high and stable
throughout the 12 months. Quality of life specific to lymphedema, however,
declined during the intensive phase of treatment, but recovered and surpassed
pretreatment levels during the self-management phase of treatment. Perceived
comfort and strength in the lymphedematous limb improved, and perceived size
decreased. The study confirmed that the combination of multimodal physical
therapy and education for self-management reduces lymphedema and its adverse
subjective consequences and maintains the improvement thus achieved.