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J Pain Symptom Manage. 1993 May;8(4):226-33.

Psychiatric consultation for women undergoing rehabilitation for upper-extremity lymphedema following breast cancer treatment.

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  • 1Psychiatry Service-Department of Neurology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021.


Breast cancer presently affects one in nine women in the United States. Women receiving radiation and surgical resection of axial lymph nodes are at risk for development of lymphedema of the ipsilateral upper extremity. Mental health consultation and intervention can be an important part of rehabilitative efforts aimed at improving both lymphedema itself and the overall psychosocial adjustment of the patient. Such consultation begins with a careful consideration of possible psychiatric diagnosis but must necessarily depart from standard psychiatric considerations to include an assessment of psychosexual and social factors. Additionally, the consultant must gauge the degree of success the patient has had in adjustment to lifestyle changes brought on by lymphedema. This paper discusses the psychological problems posed by lymphedema and offers case examples. These cases illustrate the nature of psychiatric and psychological factors encountered in this population and the interventions that can help improve both compliance with rehabilitative efforts and psychological adjustment.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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