Prevalence and predictors of breast cancer-related arm lymphedema over a 10-year period in postoperative breast cancer patients: A cross-sectional study

Yan fei Liu, Jun E. Liu, Yim Wah Mak (Corresponding Author), Yi Zhu, Hui Qiu, Li hui Liu, Shen shen Yang, Shao hua Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: Breast cancer (BC) survivors have a lifelong risk of developing lymphedema. This study investigated the prevalence of BC-related arm lymphedema among Chinese BC survivors diagnosed in the last 10 years and examined the demographic and clinical variables as well as lifestyle factors associated with lymphedema status. Methods: In this cross-sectional study, women with BC (N = 866) who had been diagnosed and followed up in the previous 10 years were recruited from the outpatient clinic of 4 general hospitals and one cancer association in China between August 2018 and October 2019. Lymphedema status was determined using the Norman telephone questionnaire as the patient-reported occurrence of hand/lower arm/upper arm swelling. Multiple logistic regression was used to identify risk factors for lymphedema. Results: The median time from BC diagnosis was 4.0 years (interquartile range, 2.0–5.0 years). 81.4% of the patients had undergone mastectomy. The prevalence of arm lymphedema among BC survivors was 49.0%. Age ≥50 years, monthly income <3000 RMB, modified radical mastectomy, postsurgical wound infection, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy were associated with an increased risk of BC-related arm lymphedema, whereas exercise of the affected arm, engagement in active physical activity, and timely reporting of symptoms of infection to a physician decreased the risk (P < 0.05). Conclusions: Arm lymphedema is a common complication for postoperative BC survivors within 10 years. It is essential to identify patients at risk of lymphedema based on demographic, clinical, and lifestyle factors and implement interventions targeting modifiable lifestyle behaviors-eg, active physical activity during the postoperative period.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101909
JournalEuropean Journal of Oncology Nursing
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Breast cancer
  • Lymphedema
  • Prevalence
  • Risk factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology(nursing)

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