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Can lymphedema cause shortness of breath?

MeToo14 Member Posts: 162
edited November 2018 in Lymphedema

I have a very mild case of truncal and breast lymphedema. I don't do anything to treat it. I'm used to it and some days it bothers me more than others. I have had shortness of breath for months now and my lungs and heart are fine. Blood work is good. I was doing some research and saw that some people have shortness of breath with their lymphedema. It has been bothering me more. I was wondering if anyone else has had this happen to them.


  • binney4
    binney4 Member Posts: 1,466
    edited May 2017

    MeToo, yes, that's a possibility. But it would be more likely if your lymphedema was affecting your abdomen as well as your breast/chest, which it may well be, especially if you have not been treating it. Weight gain can also add to the effects of lymphedema, which is often a consideration for us after breast cancer treatment.

    I hear you on being "used to it," but unfortunately that's not the whole story. Lymphedema is a progressive condition which can be slowed, maybe even stopped, with treatment. Without treatment, progression in lymphedema may or may not mean greater swelling, but the real damage is done in the affected tissues, with excess fat deposition, fibrosis, and eventually skin changes, even including leakage through the skin of caustic lymph fluid.

    In other words, it's time to find yourself a well-trained lymphedema therapist with experience in treating truncal (breast/chest/back) lymphedema. Here's information about how truncal lymphedema is treated:

    And here's how to find a qualified therapist near you:

    Please do consider getting help promptly. A lymphedema therapist will be able to tell you if the lymphedema is contributing to your shortness of breath, and help you get this comfortably under control. Any doctor on your team can write a referral. Keep us posted, please!

    Gentle hugs,

  • MeToo14
    MeToo14 Member Posts: 162
    edited May 2017

    Binney, thank you so much for your help. I have felt it spread across my chest, into my armpit and down my side and back. I really am concerned. I've tried to talk to my doctor about it but he's was very dismissive. I've looked into it but there really isn't places in my area to help. Also, you mentioned weight gain can make it worse. I have gained 15 pounds over a year. Again, thank you!

  • Gin52
    Gin52 Member Posts: 272
    edited October 2018

    Your post sounds like I wrote it! I have complained of shortness of breath for a long time. I have had chest ct's and been sent to both pulmonary specialist and heart specialist andpassedboth with flying colors!

    Is your still a problem, and is it more exercise induced?

  • MeToo14
    MeToo14 Member Posts: 162
    edited November 2018

    Gin52, yes I still have this problem. I have just accepted this as life now. It totally sucks but I don't know what else to do. Yes exercise can make it worse, although I can have problems sitting still. I hope you feel better soon!