Lymphedema After Gyneco-oncologic Treatment (Gynolymph)

  • End date
    Jun 30, 2025
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University Hospital, Ghent
Updated on 4 October 2022


Trial developed to inventory the incidence of early and advanced stage lower limb lymphedema in patients diagnosed with and treated for gynaecologic cancer.

Four hundred patients with diagnosis stage 1-3 gynaecologic cancer will be included in an observational cohort at the moment of diagnosis and followed for occurrence of lower limb lymphedema up till 2 years after their last treatment.

Data on signs and symptoms, quality of life, time investment and financial expenses will be collected, to provide information on the incidence and risk factors for lower limb lymphedema, and on its impact on patients, regarding quality of life, sexual well-being and time- and financial investment.

Patients developing early stage LLL enter an interventional sub-cohort, in which the effect of class II compressive garments on preventing evolution towards advanced stage LLL will be evaluated.


Context of the problem: Improved knowledge on the diagnosis and treatment of cancer has resulted in an increased number of cancer survivors. Consequently, more patients are confronted, often life-long, with the complications of their cancer treatment. These chronic conditions impact daily functioning and quality of life (QoL), complicate the return to work and undermine psycho-social well-being. One of the most frequent and disabling complications is lymphedema, a condition undermining QoL to an extent exceeding even a 10-year age increase.

The damage of lymphedema covers many aspects of daily life: it changes body image and complicates daily activities as basic as clothing, it increases patient-related health expenditures for treatment and for coping with the disease, reduces patient autonomy in daily functioning and can even cause sensory or motor dysfunctions. So far, no definitive cure exists for lymphedema: patients are confined to life-long preventive measures, compression therapy and regular manual lymph drainage. Surgical repair may be an option in selected cases, but evidence on surgical techniques is limited and their long-term effects are still unknown. Moreover, even after successful repair, conservative treatment is still needed.

Most studies on lymphedema are limited to upper limb lymphedema (ULL), mainly after breast cancer treatment. Only a few publications focus on lower limb lymphedema (LLL), despite its detrimental impact on QoL. This could be due to the difficulties to diagnose and treat LLL in comparison to ULL: LLL often occurs bilaterally or at the level of the groins or genital region, hence impeding diagnosis through comparison. Perimetric measurement of large cone-like oedematous legs is cumbersome. Manual lymph drainage and application of compressive garments is more strenuous for legs than for arms, and the typical bilateral occurrence and large volumes of LLL inflate the cost of treatment garments. However limited, some groups did evaluate the incidence of LLL after pelvic treatment, but maintained the criteria for advanced stage lymphedema as cut off, thereby underestimating the prior phases in which patients are confronted with functional impairment due to LLL, without apparent swelling.

The observational cohort in this study is aimed at inventorying the incidence, timing and risk factors of early as well as advanced stage lymphedema. Time and cost-investment of patients for prevention and/or treatment of LLL will be analyzed. The impact of LLL on QoL and on sexual well-being will be calculated.

A sub-cohort of this trial is of interventional design: in patients, included in the observational cohort and developing early stage LLL, standard of care treatment will be started, including skin care, active exercises and manual lymph drainage. In the experimental group, compressive garments class II will be added and compliance as well as tolerance of these garments will be analyzed.

Side-kicks of this trial are the standardization of perimetric measurements of the legs, validation of a self-report LLL screening tool and testing of the sensitivity and specificity of ICG fluoroscopy to detect early stage LLL.

Condition Lymphedema, Genital Neoplasm
Treatment Compressive garments class II
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT05469945
SponsorUniversity Hospital, Ghent
Last Modified on4 October 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Signed informed consent (ICF)
Female patient, recently diagnosed with gynaecologic cancer (cervix, endometrium, vulva, vagina, ovaries…) and candidate for curative treatment
Age ≥ 18 years
Understanding of the Dutch language
Able to understand the informed consent and willing to comply with the protocol, including use of diary or app and timely completion of requested questionnaires

Exclusion Criteria

History of treatment for gynaecologic cancer
Concurrent second primary tumor(s)
Pregnancy or pregnancy planned within 2 years
Known metastasized cancer at the time of inclusion (D0)
Severe injury, surgery or deformation of the legs or groins in the past
Vascular malformation of the leg or untreated venous insufficiency with oedema (CEAP C4 or more)
Mental or psychological problems, inability to comply to the study protocol
First treatment already started
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