What is the prevalence of lymphedema in the US?

Updated: Mar 24, 2021
  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Answer

In the United States, lymphedema most often occurs after breast cancer surgery, especially in patients who, after undergoing axillary lymphadenectomy, receive radiation therapy. Within this population, 10-40% develop some degree of ipsilateral upper extremity lymphedema. [11, 34]

Although not reported as often as postmastectomy-induced lymphedema, obesity is also one of the most common causes of lymphedema seen in practice today.

The primary lymphedemas occur in 1 of 10,000 individuals, with lymphedema praecox accounting for 80% of cases. The incidence of congenital lymphedema is unknown because most patients have been reported in small, case-based studies.


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