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Cancer. 1993 Dec 1;72(11):3248-52.

The psychological morbidity of breast cancer-related arm swelling. Psychological morbidity of lymphoedema.

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Department of Mental Health Sciences, St. Georges Hospital, London, England.



The psychological morbidity, functional impairment, and disturbance in psychosocial adjustment to illness was evaluated in relation to breast cancer-related arm swelling.


Fifty women with breast cancer-related arm swelling were matched with 50 control subjects for age, duration since treatment, and type of treatment received. All study participants were free from active disease and had been treated more than 1 year ago.


Patients with arm swelling showed greater psychological morbidity at formal psychiatric interview, impaired adjustment to illness as evaluated by the Psychosocial Adjustment to Illness Scale, and greater impairment of physical functioning.


Patients with arm swelling in relation to breast cancer experienced functional impairment, psychosocial maladjustment, and increased psychological morbidity. These findings have implications for management of breast cancer.

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