Although the incidence of lymphedema has diminished over the past decade, it continues to affect an estimated 5–10% of women who have undergone a modified radical mastectomy. Yet, a review of the nursing literature shows that little has been published on the subject of lymphedema. This article reviews the pathophysiologic development of lymphedema, including the major etiologic factors which are involved. The nursing intervention of lymphedema is also examined utilizing a framework which distinguishes primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of treatment. Three case studies are presented, each examining a different level of intervention.
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