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Occasionally lymphedema follows treatment of a variety of cancers. Lymphedema is often linked with breast cancer. (The majority of women with breast cancer will never experience lymphedema but some will)

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is swelling from the lymph fluid that builds up in the body tissues. In other words, the lymph fluid is not completely circulating through the body and builds up in one of the body tissues. The buildup (swelling) usually occurs in the arm or leg.

Why Does Lymphedema occur in breast cancer patients?

Lymphedema occurs in breast cancer patients because if the breast is removed, surgeons usually remove groups of lymph nodes and vessels from the underarm. Removing lymph vessels and nodes alters the way fluid drains in the body. In breast cancer patients, the lymphatic system struggles to remove fluid from the arm and breasts.

How can Lymphedema be treated?

The patient can wear a custom made elastic pressure sleeve. The sleeve is designed to exert a specific amount of pressure on the limb and aid in fluid movement.

Other Information about Lymphedema

Patients with lymphedema or at risk of developing lymphedema need to avoid getting an infection. Patients need to avoid infection because infection causes the body to make extra lymph fluid. Extra lymph fluid may cause swelling.


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