Life saving surgery and radiation therapy to treat breast cancer can lead to damage of the lymphatic vessels and nodes. In 20-40% of patients this leads to swelling in the arm and/or chest area. The swelling can begin directly after treatment or it can be triggered months and even years after the surgery. The swelling starts slowly, mainly during the day and can progress over time. Unfortunately once the swelling has been triggered, it tends to be a problem that the patient will have to manage long term.
Patients might notice that clothes and jewellery are tighter on one side or they might feel a heaviness in the arm and breast. Never ignore signs of swelling after breast cancer treatment. Speak to your doctor and ask to see a certified lymphedema therapist.
Swelling that is not adequately managed will continue to progress in severity. The earlier the intervention, the easier swelling is to manage.
Patients can lower their risk of developing breast cancer related lymphedema by following the recovery program below. Simply click on the link.
Studies have found that wearing a well fitted class 1 compression sleeve post operatively has a protective function. Read the study here Study Breast Cancer Patients wearing arm sleeves