Exercise and metabolic disease/BCRL/Prevalence

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Breast cancer continues to be the most common cancer among women in Australia [1] and lymphedema following breast cancer treatment is currently also a significant chronic condition in today’s cohort of breast cancer patients [2]. There is general consensus that a higher rate of BCRL is associated with surgery to the axilla & the data showing the onset of the condition indicates that majority of the cases occur within the first 18 months post-surgery [3]. Following successful treatment of breast cancer, lymphedema still remains a long term and late issue despite the advancements in surgical and radiotherapy techniques [2].

In Australia, it is highlighted that at least 1 in 10 breast cancer patients will experience lymphedema in the first 18 months of recovery. Moreover, at least 30% of women who have experienced breast cancer have, or would have had lymphedema in the first 18 months post-surgery. Approximately two thirds of these women who are classified as having chronically diagnosed lymphedema developed symptoms which were measurable after 6 months of surgery. It is also noted that the odds of developing lymphedema is significantly increased with more extensive surgery and having axillary dissection with more than 20 lymph nodes removed [4].

It is evident that BCRL is somewhat prevalent in our community, further meriting greater awareness, whereby health professionals and those at potential risk should be educated and assisted in preventing and detecting lymphedema early [4].

Lymph Node[edit | edit source]



  1. Jemal, A., et al., Cancer statistics, 2002. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 2002. 52(1): p. 23-47.
  2. Deo, S., et al., Prevalence and risk factors for development of lymphedema following breast cancer treatment. Indian journal of cancer, 2004. 41(1): p. 8.
  3. Edwards, T.L., Prevalence and aetiology of lymphoedema after breast cancer treatment in southern Tasmania. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Surgery, 2000. 70(6): p. 412-418.
  4. Hayes, S.C., et al., Lymphedema after breast cancer: incidence, risk factors, and effect on upper body function. Journal of clinical oncology, 2008. 26(21): p. 3536-3542.