Self-Care Practices in Post Mastectomy Lymphedema

  • Fayza Tawfeek
  • Rasha Yakout
Keywords: Self-care practices, Lymphedema, Radical mastectomy


Lymphedema is a life-long condition, so patient education in self-management is very important ,moreover to reduce the risk of developing lymphedema or having lymphedema worsen, all patients with lymphedema or atrisk for lymphedema should be instructed in essential self-care. Importantly, with the early identification and management of lymphedema, we can help many of our patients maintain their quality of life by minimizing cosmetic, functional, psychoemotional, and potentially life-threatening complications. Objective: Assess self-care practices regarding lymphedema after radical mastectomy. Settings: The study was conducted at the Main University Hospital and Gamal Abd-Elnaser Hospital in Alexandria. Subjects: The study was conducted on 50 adult female patients who had unilateral mastectomy with Axillary's Lymph Node Dissection. Tools: Two tools were used to collect data; Patient's Sociodemographic and Clinical Data Tool and Lymphedema's Knowledge and Self-care Structured Interview Schedule. Results: Concerning type of surgery, 40% and 44% were treated by Modified radical mastectomy and Radical mastectomy respectively. In relation to post operative period; it is noticed that 80% of the studied patient were post operative <15 weeks. 82% of the studied patients showed unsatisfactory self-care practices regarding following principles and practicing self-care of affected limb after radical mastectomy such as skin care, exercises, using garment and close observation of the limb as compared with 18% who had satisfactory scores. Conclusion: It is apparent from the present study that the majority of women who are developing post-radical mastectomy lymphedema did not practice self-care at the time of surgery and it is related to a lack of knowledge on lymphedema care amongst breast cancer patients. Recommendations: In order to improve patients’ level awareness of lymphedema self- care, the provision for systematic and comprehensive patient education, including management protocols for lymphedema, need to be addressed. Education and training will be essential components of efforts to ensure appropriate care for lymphedema patients in all community health resources and hospitals.