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Lymphoedema

Lymphoedema is a swelling of the arm that can occur after treatment for breast cancer. It is thought that the advent of new surgical techniques in the management of breast cancer, such as sentinel node biopsy, may lead to a reduction in the incidence of lymphoedema. However, lymphoedema currently represents a significant burden to breast cancer survivors. 

  • All women undergoing surgery for breast cancer should be informed of the risk of developing lymphoedema. 
  • All women should have access to quality lymphoedema education, diagnosis and treatment as well as appropriate compression garments and financial support to obtain these.
  • Guidelines for evaluation and management of lymphoedema should be widely available so that all clinicians have access to standardised, best practice information on its management.
  • Through their multidisciplinary teams, women who develop lymphoedema following treatment for their breast cancer should have access to lymphoedema practitioners and services.
  • A consistent, central source of information about state-based lymphoedema services should be made available to all women, including those living in rural and remote areas.
  • Good state-based models for the provision of financial assistance for purchasing compression garments—based on the Victorian and Tasmanian models for providing government support—should be implemented.