12-31-2008, 05:56 PM #1
Trying to prevent lymphedema after breast cancer
WASHINGTON (AP)– Hospitals in about a dozen states are testing whether some simple steps, such as arm-strengthening exercises, could reduce the risk of one of breast cancer's troubling legacies — the painful and sometimes severe arm swelling called lymphedema. Lymphedema has long been a neglected side effect of cancer surgery and radiation: Many women say they never were warned, even though spotting this problem early improves outcomes.
And while less invasive surgical techniques mean fewer breast cancer patients today than just a few years ago should face lymphedema, it's a lingering threat for tens of thousands of survivors because it can strike two decades after their tumor was treated.
"I have ladies tell me the lymphedema is much worse than their cancer because the cancer's cured," says Dr. Electra Paskett, an epidemiologist at Ohio State University who is leading the first-of-its-kind research into possible protective steps.
Among them: Wearing elastic sleeves to counter temporary swelling during things like airplane flight or heavy lifting, and doing special exercises with light weights designed to help keep open the lymph channels that allow fluid to drain through the body.
"The theory is building up muscles in your arm acts as a natural pneumatic pump to move the fluid," explains Paskett, herself a breast cancer survivor who developed lymphedema.
When lymph nodes under a breast cancer patient's arm are removed or damaged by biopsy, surgery or radiation, lymph fluid can build up and cause anything from mild swelling to a ballooning of the arm.
Results aren't due until 2012. Meanwhile, cancer groups advise:
_Be alert for subtle swelling. Don't ignore a tight ring or watch, or clothes suddenly not fitting.
_See a certified lymphedema specialist, who has proper training in fitting compression garments and proper use of decongestive therapy. Improper use of either can worsen the condition.
_Obesity and arm injuries are additional risk factors. So watch your weight; avoid injections in the affected arm; clean cuts and seek care for infections promptly; wear gardening gloves and oven mitts; and avoid temperature extremes, such as hot tubs.
Study info: http://www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials/CALGB-70305#ContactInfo_CDR0000494652
National Lymphedema Network: http://www.lymphnet.org
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01-01-2009, 06:44 PM #2Registered User
- Join Date
- Sep 2005
I am becoming acutely aware of this. Was diagnosed w/ BC last August, have had 3 surgeries and am on chemo, to be followed by radiation. The nurse comes 3x a week and a PT twice. While they have said all mentioned above, I was also advised to wear no jewelry on that arm, no BP checks, no shots...no nothing. They also suggested a plastic med alert bracelet saying "stay away from this arm" , or something like that.
I never thought this would happen to me....ladies, never, ever skip your booby smash ( as I did for 2 years) It can happen so fast, and you're not to young, nor too old to have this monster attack you.
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01-02-2009, 10:28 AM #3
01-02-2009, 10:45 AM #4Registered User
- Join Date
- Jul 2007
Thank you for posting this article Dark Knight. I was diagnoised with BC in July and had a mastectomy. I haven't had problems with lymphedma yet but it's good to know some things to do to prevent. I agree with the post above about making sure you get mamo's every year. For me I'm 33 so for those of us under 40 make sure your doing your monthly self breast exam.
01-02-2009, 05:50 PM #5
01-02-2009, 06:36 PM #6
Tnx DK for reminding us all. I am a breast cancer survivor and I have had swelling. As long as I exercsie I'm ok.
11-19-2009, 05:10 AM #7
God Bless each and everyone of you diagnosed and struggling with these disease. Many hugs to you.~~~
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11-19-2009, 07:56 AM #8
I have two friends who suffer from lymphedema.
The one who walks with me has recently found that our change of diet (to more natural, whole foods) has greatly reduced the fluid in her arm. Not a complete cure, but definitely an improvement.
So sorry for those of you who here with BC and lymphedema. It seems insult to injury sometimes! Praying that they will find a better way to prevent and treat it.
11-19-2009, 01:14 PM #9
Early detection is the best prevention! My 4th mammogram at 44 found mine. 5 years cancer free this past October. My identical twin was diagnosed last year. A very large dog jumped up on her and his paw hit her collar bone. This triggered lymphedema in her arm. With the cuff and exercise, she has had a complete recovery. We are both very lucky girls.There is Good Grief. Just ask Charlie Brown.
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