WANCHAI A., STEWART B.R. & ARMER J.M. (2011) Experiences and management of breast cancer-related lymphoedema: a comparison between South Africa and the United States of America. International Nursing Review59, 117–124
Purpose: Approximately one third of breast cancer survivors are estimated to develop lymphoedema. This study was conducted in the midwestern region of the USA and in Western Cape, South Africa. The purpose of this study was to compare and contrast lymphoedema experiences and lymphoedema managements between breast cancer survivors from the two countries.
Methods: Using a qualitative research design, data were collected from 29 women with a history of breast cancer-related lymphoedema (18 women from the USA and 11 women from South Africa) who consented to semi-structured interviews.
Findings: Six themes regarding effects of lymphoedema emerged from the study including difficulties with daily activities, unmet lymphoedema preparations, facing public curiosity, time-consuming wrapping, trouble with fitted clothes and a reminder of breast cancer. Four themes regarding lymphoedema management included compression garments, physical activities and faith, as well as other strategies such as compression pumps or antibiotics for infection.
Conclusion: Experiences about lymphoedema and its management for breast cancer survivors from both countries were somewhat similar and somewhat different. Collaboration between healthcare providers from both countries should be planned to develop culturally appropriate lymphoedema symptom management interventions for each country.