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Bull Cancer. 1996 Dec;83(12):989-95.

[Frequency of lymphedema of the upper limb after treatment of breast cancer. Risk factors. Apropos of 683 cases].

[Article in French]

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Unité de rééducation main-membre supérieur et unité de rééducation vasculaire, Avignon, France.


Lymphoedema of the upper limb after breast cancer treated with axillary clearance is a well known sequels. But its real rate is not precise. The retrospective study of 683 patients approaches this reality. When clinic criteria are selected with centimetric measures, its general rate is 41%; 65% out of them have a difference smaller than 3 cm. We noticed three different kinds of lymphoedemas which occur on the arm, the forearm or the complete upper limb. Their volumes are different, the more voluminous ones occur when the upper limb is touched completely (P = 0.0001). The different factors which increase the risk of lymphoedema are described. The role of the infection is noticed (x 1.7). The rate is independent of the surgery, of the importance of axillary clearance and of the shoulder joint function. The lymphoedema size is more important when it occurs secondary to mastectomy then conservative treatment (P = 0.0078). Parietal fibrosis increases lymphoedema risk to 54% (P = 0.005) and lymphoedemas are more voluminous (P = 0.009).

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