Breast Lymphedema Symptoms


A comprehensive overview of lymphedema covering subjects as symptoms, diagnostics, research, causes and pictures
Breast Lymphedema Symptoms

Breast lymphedema Symptoms


     The lymphatic system is the defensive system of the body. It helps in protecting us from the foreign materials entering the body. Lymphedema is the condition in which there is accumulation of abnormal amounts of the lymphatic fluid in the body. It occurs when ever there is any blockage in the lymphatic channels and other causes which include the cancer, infection, trauma, and any scarred tissue formation, due to any treatment of cancer or radiation.


     There is a very high risk of development of breast lymphedema symptoms after certain surgical procedures. These may include modified radical mastectomy, simple mastectomy, lumpectomy along with the axillary lymph nodes removal, combination of surgery and radiation therapy or the radiation therapy alone to the axillary lymph node region. There duration can be in days, weeks and months for the development of the breast lymphedema symptoms to show up.


     According to the recent studies, the breast lymphedema symptoms are occurring in those women more commonly who are undergoing axillary lymph node dissection instead of sentinel lymph node biopsy alone. After breast cancer surgery certain alteration may take place in the lymphatic pathway which is involved in the immune system of the body. It seems to occur at any time after the surgery has taken place. It can even happen to worsen if not treated in time.


     Breast lymphedema symptoms may include extreme swelling of the arms, fingers, shoulders, chest and legs. There may be complaint of an increase in weight. Other symptoms may include the sensation of heaviness and discomfort. Tingling sensation may also occur and numbness may be sometimes the presenting complaint by the patient who had recently undergone a breast surgery. Structural changes in skin may also take place. As a result skin may become thick and rough. Infection may occur and can cause inflammation of the skin. Everyday used items such as rings, bracelets, watches etc may also become difficult to be worn.


     The breast lymphedema symptoms may disappear themselves by 6 to 12 weeks. The ways that can be adopted to do so include the use of the affected limb normally as one does everyday. The limb where the surgery has taken place should be elevated twice or thrice a day and must be kept above the level of heart for a few minutes. The lymphatic fluid accumulation can be prevented by doing exercises repeatedly. The limb emptying can be done manually or by using the pneumatic pump devices. After radiation therapy minor swelling can take place around the level of chest. This can get improved after some days by doing only simple stretching exercises everyday to prevent lymph to be get accumulated.


     The lymphedema can be easily diagnosed using the procedures of CT scan, MRI and Doppler ultrasound studies. There are no specific medications developed yet to help combating this condition. The only thing which helps in curing the condition is precautions. The limb should not remain immobilized for a longer period of time. The pain and discomfort can be decreased by massaging of the limb and by usage of bandages and compression stockings.








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