Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Nursing


School of Nursing


Faculty of Health and Human Sciences

First Advisor

Bronwyn Jones

Second Advisor

Phillip Della


Lymphoedema of the ipsilateral upper limb is one of the most significant long term complications of the surgical treatment of breast cancer and may be described as a life sentence of bodily disfigurement. The resultant cosmetic disfigurement, physical discomfort and reduced physical mobility combined with the psychological sequelae, far exceeds the original expectations of the breast surgery patient (Tobin, Lacey, Meyer, and Mortimer, 1993). It is estimated that one hundred thousand women in Australia have developed lymphoedema (or will develop it before they die) as a result of mastectomy and radiotherapy alone (Casley-Smith, 1992). In breast cancer patients, lymphoedema can follow radical surgery including lymph node dissection, fibrosis due to radiotherapy or it can represent late recurrence of malignant tumour in the axilla occluding lymphatic pathways (Ellis & Caine, 1983). This descriptive correlational study focussed on describing the experiences of women with lymphoedema following surgery for breast cancer and identifying whether or not its occurrence is related to the type of surgery undergone, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and Tamoxifen therapy in a convenience sample of women (n=l44), who had had surgery for breast cancer. There was an 81.3% response rate to the questionnaire (n=ll7). The majority of the respondents were from an urban sector of Western Australia with a mean age of fifty three (53) years. Data were supplemented by information from participants' responses to open ended questions which were then quantified.

Included in

Nursing Commons