Living with lymphoedema after treatment for breast and gynaecological cancers in Singapore

Background: Lymphoedema is a chronic swelling of the affected body part and can occur after surgical removal of lymph nodes and radiotherapy. It can have a debilitating impact on the lives of those affected. Aim: This study aimed to explore the experience of Singaporean women living and coping with lymphoedema. Methods: A semi-structured interview was conducted with women who developed lymphoedema after breast or gynaecological cancer treatment. Thematic analysis was conducted through three independent coders. Results: Four main categories were identified –perception towards lymphoedema, confronting challenges of managing lymphoedema, treatment motivators and suggested improvements. Patients with gynaecological cancer were more affected by adjustments in attire and footwear. Maintaining mobility motivated treatment adherence. Breast cancer participants preferred pre-operative education while those with gynaecological cancer felt information should be regulated. Conclusion: There is a longing for normalcy as women adjusted their lives to manage with lymphoedema. More can be done to help support them. Further research is needed to explore alternative treatment options to enhance their lives. 

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