Introduction Earlier diagnosis and improved treatment options have resulted in a substantial improvement in breast cancer survival over the last three decades (Hooning 2007). The mortality rate from breast cancer is decreasing by 2% per annum and the five year survival rate is increasing (Smith 1998). Breast cancer survival is however often associated with significant morbidity such as secondary lymphedema. Secondary lymphedema manifesting as a localised acquired lymphatic microcirculatory disturbance (Harris 2001) results from lymphatic flow interruptions and fibrosis following surgery and/or radiation therapy (Szuba 2002). The reported incidence ranges from 7% to 39% in breast cancer survivors (Edwards 2000, McCredie 2001, Zissiadis 1997) with associated functional, asthetic and psychological issues impacting on the quality of life (QOL).