The Clinical Characteristics of Lower Extremity Lymphedema in 440 Patients

Cancer treatment has historically been identified as the most common cause of lymphedema in Western countries. Investigators conducted a 3-year retrospective chart review of 440 patients diagnosed with lower extremity lymphedema who were referred to a university medical center’s cancer-based physical therapy department. These patients were assigned to one of four categories representing the principal cause(s) of leg swelling:

  • Chronic venous insufficiency (phlebolymphedema)
  • Cancer-related lymphedema
  • Primary lymphedema
  • Lipedema with lymphedema

The study concluded that chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) was the most frequent principal cause of lymphedema. These findings challenge the prevalent belief that cancer treatment is the predominant cause of lower extremity lymphedema in the United States