Quality of Life in People With Lymphedema

Lorena Rodríguez Elena, Raquel Refusta Ainaga, Belén Miró Palacios, Bárbara Oliván Blázquez, Sabela Couso Viana, Magallon Botaya

The prevalence of lymphedema is 1.15 / 100,000 inhabitants, but this figure is higher among those affected by certain types of cancer.

Research questions:
The objective of this study is to analyze the quality of life in people with lymphedema.

72 people with a diagnosis of lymphedema were recruited. The study variables were sex, age, type of lymphedema (primary or secondary), part of the body affected (upper or lower limb). The SF-36 questionnaire was also administered (physical function, physical role, body pain, general health, vitality, social function, emotional role, and mental health). A comparison analysis was performed according to sex, type of lymphedema, and part of the body affected.

66 women (91.7%) and 6 men (8.3%) took part in the study, with a mean age of 53.20 years (SD: 11.5), 40.3% had primary lymphedema, and 45.8% have affected one or both upper extremities. The mean of the SF-36 questionnaire was 112.38 (SD: 21.66). There were no significant correlations between age and SF-36 scores. There were no significant differences according to sex and the affected limb, but there were in relation to the type of lymphedema, being lower the quality of life (body pain, general health, social function and emotional role) in people suffering from a lymphedema in the lower limbs.

It is necessary to delve into factors that may be related to a low quality of life in people with lymphedema.

Points for discussion:
Why people suffering from a lymphedema in the lower limbs have lower quality of life?

What factors could be involved in this result?

What other questionnaires could be used?