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Support Care Cancer. 2013 Nov;21(11):3063-70. doi: 10.1007/s00520-013-1879-3. Epub 2013 Jun 29.

Lower limb lymphedema in gynecological cancer survivors--effect on daily life functioning.

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  • 1Clinical Cancer Epidemiology, Department of Oncology and Pathology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Lower limb lymphedema (LLL) is a common condition after pelvic cancer treatment but few studies have evaluated its effect on the quality of life and its consequences on daily life activities among gynecological cancer survivors.

METHODS:

We identified a cohort of 789 eligible women, treated with pelvic radiotherapy alone or as part of combined treatment of gynecological cancer, from 1991 to 2003 at two departments of gynecological oncology in Sweden. As a preparatory study, we conducted in-depth interviews with gynecological cancer survivors and constructed a study-specific questionnaire which we validated face-to-face. The questionnaire covered physical symptoms originating in the pelvis, demographic, psychological, and quality of life factors. In relation to the lymph system, 19 questions were asked.

RESULTS:

Six hundred sixteen (78 %) gynecological cancer survivors answered the questionnaire and participated in the study. Thirty-six percent (218/606) of the cancer survivors reported LLL. Overall quality of life was significantly lower among cancer survivors with LLL. They were also less satisfied with their sleep, more worried about recurrence of cancer, and more likely to interpret symptoms from the body as recurrence. Cancer survivors reported that LLL kept them from physical activity (45 %) and house work (29 %) and affected their ability to partake in social activities (27 %) or to meet friends (20 %).

CONCLUSION:

Lower limb lymphedema has a negative impact on quality of life among gynecological cancer survivors, affecting sleep and daily life activities, yet only a few seek professional help.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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