84 people with lymphoedema affecting arms or legs due to cancer treatment were recruited. Each person completed a self-report lymphoedema questionnaire to explain the severity of lymphoedema and was compared with four different measurement methods including tape measure circumferences, Perometer, and two electrical bio-impedance devices.
75 people with arm and 9 with leg lymphoedema were recruited. The average age was 64 years (range 38 to 97 years). Lymphoedema reminded participants of their cancer daily (31%), weekly (16%) and monthly (23%). Validity between tape measure and Perometer was very high for both arms (r=0.94) and legs (r=.93). The test-retest reliability of the tape measure and Perometer was also very high (ICC>0.95; 95% CI). The measurement with most sensitivity (ability to detect lymphoedema) and specificity (ability to detect the absence of lymphoedema) was the tape measure at 7.5% volume difference between limbs. Participant’s preferred method of measurement was the Perometer as it was easiest and fastest to perform.
Being able to detect lymphoedema early and accurately, people can start their treatment at the right time. The ability to detect the absence of lymphoedema is just as important to avoid over-treating and creating anxiety unnecessarily for cancer patients.
To share the results with colleagues and peers in conferences and journal papers. Sharing the findings with patients to reassure them that the method of assessing their lymphoedema by tape measure is the best that research currently has to offer.