FACTS ON LYMPHOEDEMA
WHAT IS LYMPHOEDEMA?
Lymphoedema is a long term swelling of one or more parts of the body because that part of the lymph drainage system isn’t working properly.
THE LYMPHATIC SYSTEM
The lymphatic system flows throughout the body. It is a one way system which returns fluid from the extremities to the blood system at the neck. It is made up of many vessels which transport a clear fluid called lymph. On its way along this system, lymph is filtered through nodes. The lymph system plays an important part in the body’s defence against infection.
NOT ALL BREAST CANCER PATIENTS GET LYMPHOEDEMA!
Swelling is normal after surgery and usually resolves relatively quickly. Your post-operative exercise regime will help regain full mobility of the shoulder, regain tissue flexibility and assist lymphatic flow.
After a sentinel node biopsy, the risk of developing lymphoedema is reported to be around 6%. After an axillary node clearance and/or radiotherapy the risk is 16-28%. The majority of people who go on to develop lymphoedema will do so within 2 years of surgery but you are at risk for life.
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