One of the most common types of cancer affecting women today is breast cancer. About one in eight U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. During surgery to treat the cancer, lymph nodes are often removed, which can disrupt the flow of lymph and cause swelling. The lymph nodes may also be treated with radiation which can cause damage to the lymphatic system. This does not always occur after surgery or radiation, as sometimes it appears months or even years later. As a result, it’s common for breast cancer patients to develop lymphedema. It’s important to know of your risk factor for this condition, as well as ways that can reduce your risk. Continue reading →
“I fought breast cancer, I’m a fighter! I am cancer free, so what is this about lymphedema after breast cancer? Why was I never told that I could end up with a chronic disease as a complication of my cancer treatments? This lymphedema sucks!” It does suck, yet there are ways of reducing your risk of lymphedema after breast cancer.
While working in a durable medical supply store that catered to breast cancer patients seeking bras and prosthesis, this or a similar sentiment was often heard. It was heartbreaking to me and so frustrating. Going through cancer treatment and receiving a lymphedema diagnosis can be devastating. Were they told, and didn’t remember? Had they never been told and their doctors just hoped for the best? Were their doctors unaware or did they just not want to deal with it?
Dr. Marisa Weiss, chief medical officer of breastcancer.org says, “I can say from experience that the time right after diagnosis, when you are considering options and planning treatment, is a blur. When you are feeling so anxious and overwhelmed, it is hard to listen, understand, and decide. So even if lymphedema gets mentioned during this time, you may not remember it. Or it may not come up because the focus is really on getting you well. So if lymphedema does develop later on, it can feel like yet another insult to the body, one that many women weren’t fully prepared for. The good news is that women can learn how to manage it and lead normal lives.“ Continue reading →