Education and awareness are key to helping women understand the importance of after care if they are considering breast cancer treatment.
What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is a disorder of the lymphatic system affecting millions of Americans. When left untreated, lymphedema can become serious condition. It is particularly common among patients who have breast cancer surgery and those who undergo radiation therapy following the removal of axillary lymph nodes, which can lead to the development of breast cancer related lymphedema (BCRL). This is one of the most prevalent secondary complications of breast cancer treatments – the rate varies from 25 to 38% of patients, depending on what type of treatment they received.
Lymphedema can be caused by not having enough lymph nodes in a certain area of the body, or lymph nodes that have been damaged. Radiation treatment can scar and harden tissue including the surrounding lymph vessels, causing excess fluid to build up in limbs, the chest, genitals, or the face. The arms and chest are the most common areas affected by breast cancer related lymphedema.
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What Every Woman Should Know About Breast Cancer Related Lymphedema
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