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Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate lymphedema post-breast cancer surgery in a small town in Brazil. Design: Study census-type populational of the town of Palmares Paulista, Brazil in the period from September 2008 to May 2009. Method: The prevalence of lymphedema post-breast cancer surgery was evaluated in 1583 women. Home visits were made on Saturdays and Sundays by a physician, physiotherapists and an occupational therapist. In a single visit, female residents were questioned about surgical treatment of breast cancer, time of surgery, outbreaks of erysipelas and the presence of edema after the surgery. A diagnosis of edema was reached from the patients’ personal feeling that the arm became swollen after treatment. Results: Of the 1583 women who participated in the study, 32 had been submitted to the surgical treatment of breast cancer with axillary dissection, with 12 (37.5%) reporting subsequent edema of the arm. Only one episode of erysipelas or cellulitis was reported. The time from surgery varied between 2 and 12 years with a mean of 7 years. Conclusion: Patients submitted to breast cancer surgery suffer a high rate of lymphedema but a low incidence of arm infections.