There is increasing interest in the health-related quality of life (QOL) of patients with chronic lymphoedema. The purpose of the present study was to ascertain whether or not complex decongestive physiotherapy (CDP) for 57 gynecological cancer patients with unilateral lymphedema results in a measurable change in the oedema and QOL, and % excess volume correlated with change in QOL. % excess volume was significantly (P < 0.05) decreased after CDP. The QOL scores were significantly (P < 0.05) higher than the scores at baseline, indicating an improvement in the QOL. The change in % excess volume was associated with a change in physical functioning, social functioning, role-physical, bodily pain and general health at baseline and 1 month (P < 0.05). This study suggests that significant improvements are made in the QOL of gynecological cancer patients with unilateral lymphoedema after CDP, which is necessarily correlated with limb reduction.