International Lymphoedema Research

The ALA supports these two research studies by invited ALA members’ participation.

Development of the ICF Core set for Lymphoedema 

Chief investigator: Peter Viehoff, MSc | Erasmus Medical Centre Department of Dermatology Rotterdam | The Netherlands

The objective of our project:

To develop an ICF Core Set for lymphedema. These are being designed with the aim of providing a useful standard for both research and clinical practice. The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) offers an international framework for the classification and description of health and health-related domains. ICF Core Sets are lists of selected ICF categories concerning the important aspects of functioning that are most likely to be affected by a specific disease, in this case by lymphoedema. These Core Sets make it easier and faster to describe the patient’s problems and to define treatment goals


LIMPRINT PROJECT Lymphoedema Impact and Prevalence – ILF 

Chief Investigator: Christine Moffat, ILF | Phil Morgan, Project Manager

Primary aim:

To develop and validate a toolkit for use by national lymphoedema frameworks and their partner organisations to assess the number of patients with chronic oedema and its impact on individuals and health services.

The ILF has commenced the process to design and evaluate of an on-line system which will include patient assessment tools, data storage, analysis and reporting functions. This needs to be robust, easy to use and to work. The initial work is to develop a classification system and tool which accurately describes different patient groups. The Australian Chapter of the International Lymphoedema Framework (ILFA) has been asked to take responsibility for the implementation of the study program in Australia.  


Current Australian Lymphoedema Research


Calvary Public Hospital, Bruce

ICTOC: Impact of Compression Therapy on Cellulitis

Lead investigator: Elizabeth Webb
This study is investigating if use of compression to manage oedema can delay recurrent cellulitis


Queensland University of Technology, School of Public Health, Brisbane

A/Prof Sandi Hayes: Active studies are as follows:

LEGS: lymphoedema following gynaecological cancer

Lead investigators: Sandi Hayes and Monika Janda
This study is about understanding incidence and risk factors.

The need for wearing compression while exercising

Lead investigators: Ben Singh and Sandi Hayes

The use, acceptability and perceived effectiveness of prescribed treatments for the management of lymphoedema

Lead investigators: Anna Finnane and Sandi Hayes

Comparing the effects of aerobic- versus resistance-based exercise for those with Lymphoedema

Lead investigators: Jena Buchan and Sandi Hayes
Completed published studies involve work that has: evaluated prevalence, incidence and risk factors of upper-limb lymphoedema following breast cancer, meta-analysis on incidence of lymphoedema following breast cancer; evaluation of genetic predisposition for the development of lymphoedema; evaluating the implications of different lymphoedema diagnostic methods to study findings.

James Cook University, School of Physiotherapy, Townsville

A/Prof Susan Gordon, ALA Research Adviser

Validity and reliability of indurometer and ultrasound in assessment of lymphoedema tissue

Lead Investigator: Jane Phillips

Assessment of early lymphatic changes in filliariasis

Lead investigator: Jan Douglass


Australian Lymphoedema Education, Research and Treatment (ALERT), Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Macquarie University, Sydney

Prof John Boyages AM

Current ALERT research projects

University of Sydney, Faculty of health Science, Breast Cancer Research Group

Prof Sharon Kilbreath

  1. Determination of lower limb circumference thresholds, led by Dr Elizabeth Dylke and funded by PRF grant.

  2. What is the level of impairments for first-time attendees at lymphoedema clinics? Minolie Govender (Honours) with Elizabeth Dylke and Prof Sharon Kilbreath

  3. Determination as to whether physiological markers within four weeks of surgery can be used to identify women at high risk for lymphoedema.

  4. Can exercise reduce impairments associated with breast lymphoedema. Co-investigators include Leigh Ward, Glen Davis, and Deb Black; funded by NHMRC


University of New South Wales Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering

Adjunct A/Prof Colin Stahel  

Development of an innovative compression sleeve prototype

Lead investigator: Prof Melissa L. Knothe Tate

University of Wollongong:  Biomechanical Research Laboratory

Development of a Lymph Sleeve using artificial muscle

Lead Investigator: Prof Julie Steele

University of Wollongong

Musculoskeletal problems following breast-cancer surgery
Lead investigator: Dr Deirdre McGhee

The aim of this study is therefore to investigate through an on-line survey of women post-breast cancer surgery:

  • The incidence and severity of the musculoskeletal issues (movement problems with their muscles and joints and lymphoemema) experienced by women post-breast cancer surgery and the extent to which these issues restrict physical activity and function,

  • How these problems are currently managed by the health system (health care professionals directly associated with their surgery and post-operative care)   

  • Current patient-directed strategies, musculoskeletal rehabilitation or educational strategies adopted by patients to address these problems (that is, what is perceived to work and what does not work).


University of Melbourne, Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience

Donor site lymphatic function following free lymph node transfer

Lead investigator: Saam Tourani 


Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer, Flinders University

Distress and self-compassion among women with cancer-related lymphoedema

Principal investigator: Prof Carlene Wilson

Lymphoedema is a prevalent sequela of cancer treatment, is incurable, and leads to concerning levels of psychological morbidity. Research that has focused on the psychological barriers and social restrictions noted that the impact of cancer-related lymphoedema varied between studies and individuals. These studies consisted of a range of significant negative affect impacts: frustration, distress, depression, anxiety, and body image disturbance, with the latter implicated in much of the preceding. Low levels of self-compassion have been shown in the breast cancer-related lymphoedema population. Self-compassion is the ability to accept oneself, or show self-directed empathy, when experiencing psychological difficulties. It has been shown that self-compassion focused writing intervention within a breast cancer-related lymphoedema population improved self-compassion and decreased body image disturbance. This study is proposed to evaluate whether a self-compassion focused writing intervention (“My Changed Body”, Sherman et al 2013) involving acceptance of bodily changes following treatment for cancer can decrease levels of distress among women with lymphoedema.


Flinders University, School of Medicine, Lymphoedema Research Unit

Professor Neil Piller
Several current lymphoedema studies are underway - TBA 

Flinders University, Department of Surgery School of Medicine

  1. The impact of intermittent leg compression on chronic primary and secondary leg lymphoedema

  2. The impact of physical/mechanical stimulation of the lymphatic system on skin health, facial oedema and appearance

  3. What is the direct patient cost of conservative treatment and management 

  4. Wii: The impact of a Wii yoga program on arm lymphoedema 

  5. Do  conservative and surgical interventions influence the incidence of infection 

  6. Can current lymphoedema assessment tools help with improving the ISL staging descriptions of lymphoedema

  7. Predicting tissue visco-elasticity and fluid movement in lymphoedematous limbs – how good is the indurometer?

  8. Indurometer vs Tonometer reliability, repeatability and useability

  9. The incidence and severity of lymphoedema following soft tissue trauma of the lower limbs and its relationship to   new lymphatic  growth using ICG 

  10. The Effect of yoga on degree of lymphoedema in Breast Cancer Related Lymphoedema (multi center study)

  11. Clinical awareness and knowledge of BCRL – an on line survey

  12. Lymphoedema; Cancer Risk and the food fix – are their links


Recently Published Lymphoedema Research

Please click here to access the article on a study undertake by Robyn Sierla about Australian Breast Cancer Lymphoedema services in Australia published in the Australian Family Physician Dec 2013.