Unfortunately, there are relatively few studies on lymphedema,
despite how common it is, and that is likely due to the fact
that there are no drugs or surgeries to treat it. In this
country, medical research is either sponsored through grants
which are usually federal, or through drug companies.
How to search for Lymphedema Research:
First: how to read medical literature: you’ll want recent
studies, and the “gold standard” is a double blind placebo
controlled trial—where one half the enrolled people got
treatment and the others only got placebo. But, in lymphedema
that kind of study is rarely done, more often a group of patents
are given a treatment and they are observed. The best studies
are done on large numbers of patients, with clear clinical
outcomes measured and they are followed for the longest possible
period of time. For example: the only study on the laser
involved 64 women and half got one set of treatment, and half
got two (so no real placebo here) and after 6 months, the group
with two treatments had an average of a 33% reduction in the
sizes of their arms. Ideally, you would want to follow these
women for as long as possible to judge if the treatment lasted
and if any side effects developed.
It’s intimidating to read medical literature: all sorts of
statistics are thrown at you, and they can be confusing. And,
often just reading the abstract will hide the flaws in the
study. But studies are good places to find information.
PubMed is a database of clinical studies and will give you
access to abstracts. Full articles usually have to be purchased.
How to use PubMed: go to the home page:
On that page you can search using words: a good search is
specific and using the words lymphedema, breast cancer will
bring up a list of articles. When you click on the article, it
will bring up the abstract, and on the right side of the page
there are lists of similar articles. A recent search using those
three words brought up 1102 articles, including several that
were being published in the next week.
2. Other features on the
On the left hand side of the site are two useful features: “Clinical
Queries” and “Clinical
Trials.gov” Clinical queries will narrow the article search
to only articles that deal with treatment.
will allow you to search for clinical trials on lymphedema. Not
all trials are listed on this page, but it is a good place to
start a search.
3. Other resources:
The National Lymphedema
Network publishes newsletters and provides articles, full
information is available to members.
The Lymphedema Research Foundation:
Information from other sites:
Lymphedema Research Centers
Lymphedema Clinical Trials
MU Study Identifies Patient Strategies for Managing Symptoms
4. Free On-Line Medical Journals:
The Oncology Times is a free on-line journal that is a mix
of interviews and articles, and can provide good information:
Finding a Clinical Trial. Clicking on this link will
take you to a page from the American Society of Clinical
Oncology with several resources:
Institute Clinical Trials, along with advice on how to
network to find a trial.
No one place lists all clinical trials, so a Google search, a
search of the government database—both general and National
Cancer Institute, and ask if your oncologist can help find
a clinical trial in Vermont:
Research is both published articles and on-going investigations.
You will want to search PubMed for published articles and since
there is no single site for all clinical trials, a search of
several sites, and emailing clinical investigators who may know
about other research will help.
Internet information can be of variable quality and being your
own researcher can be confusing: when in doubt, discuss the
information you find with your healthcare team.