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Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2013 Mar;92(3):223-31. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0b013e31826edd97.

The prevalence of lymphedema symptoms among survivors of long-term cancer with or at risk for lower limb lymphedema.

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Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.



The aim of this study was to identify commonly reported symptoms in the lower limbs among those with or at risk for developing lower limb lymphedema (LLL).


The authors surveyed survivors of long-term cancer using the Pennsylvania State Cancer Registry. They inquired about demographics, cancer treatment history, knowledge about LLL, and symptoms experienced since completing cancer treatment. They invited all participants for an in-person clinical assessment to better identify and characterize the symptoms associated with LLL.


The response rate to the study survey was 57.2%. Among the 107 participants who answered the study survey, 37 (34.5%) reported one or more symptoms associated with LLL. Many reported a combination of symptoms that included difficulty walking (n = 37; 100%), aching (n = 32; 86%), puffiness (n = 28; 76%), and pain (n = 27; 73%) on one side of the body since cancer treatment. The in-person clinical assessment among a subsample of 17 participants revealed 10 participants with no evidence of LLL and 5 and 2 participants with grade 1 and 2 LLL, respectively. The in-person clinical assessment identified three cases of previously undiagnosed LLL.


One third of the survivors of cancer surveyed reported experiencing new symptoms in the lower limbs since cancer treatment. Cases of symptomatic, undiagnosed LLL may exist in the population.

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