Postmastectomy Patients: What is lymphedema?
Around 1 in 5 breast cancer patients will develop Lymphedema, a potential side effect postmastectomy or post radiation therapy. The condition can present whilst undergoing treatment or within the years following treatment.
Lymph is a thin, clear fluid that circulates throughout the lymphatic system.It serves to remove waste, bacteria, and other substances from tissues. Edema is the buildup of excess fluid in the cavities or tissues of the body. When too much of this fluid builds up or collects in any area of the body lymphedema occurs. For patients who have been treated for cancer the condition usually occurs in the hand and arm but can also the breast, underarm, chest, trunk, and/or back.
Why does lymphedema happen?
Whilst undergoing a mastectomy, surgeons may remove at least two or three axillary lymph nodes from under the arm. The axillary nodes are the first place breast cancer is likely to spread because they drain lymph from the breast. Sometimes many more nodes may also be removed.
Surgery and radiation can result in cutting off or damaging some of the nodes and vessels leading the remaining vessels or pathways to become overwhelmed. Over time this can result in a backup of fluid into the body’s tissues.
There is no way to determine whether or not an individual will develop lymphedema postmastectomy or post-treatment so it is best to stay educated on the subject and understand the condition. Learn about the early symptoms, risk factors and how the LUT 904 device can help. If you feel you may be suffering, it is advisable to seek a diagnosis from a qualified Therapist.
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