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Topic: Lymphedema and Saunas

Forum: Lymphedema —

Talk with other about how to lower your risk of lymphedema and how to manage it if you've been diagnosed.

Posted on: Dec 16, 2008 05:38PM

Lisa1964 wrote:

I had 17 nodes removed from the left side with my bi-lateral mast on Sept. 24, 2008.  I just joined a gym and I was so excited about using the sauna.  Then, while researching lymphedema and exercise, I see that saunas can CAUSE lymphedema.  Well crap!

Does anyone have any experience or info on this?

Thanks, Lisa

I attacked and I won! Dx 8/28/2008, IDC, <1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 1, 2/17 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Dec 16, 2008 10:05PM LindaLou53 wrote:

Hi Lisa,  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but yes a sauna can increase your risk of developing lymphedema if you have already had node removal.  The problem is that our lymphatic system is a finely tuned system operating under a very delicate balance.  Once you have had surgical removal of lymph nodes or tissue damage from radiation, that delicate balance can be very easily upset by the smallest of factors.

Any process that increases the flow of lymph fluid in the affected body part, can cause a damaged lymph system to reach its maximum transport capacity.  Once that limit is breached, lymph fluid begins to seep into the tissue causing swelling and extracellular tissue changes that can become permanent.

Things that cause increased lymph fluid production are heat, inflammation, infection, and over-exercise.  A sauna or jacuzzi which raises the body temperature several degrees causes increased circulation and increased lymph production.  Does that mean absolutely that you will trigger lymphedema by using a sauna or jacuzzi?  No, not necessarily, but we never know what our individual capacity is.  Some persons who have had multiple nodes removed may never show signs of lymphedema for years, but others with just a single node removed or even just a prophylactic mastectomy may still develop lymphedema.

For this reason there are specific precautions recommended to help reduce our risk of developing lymphedema once our lymphatic system has been compromised by surgery or radiation.  You can read the NLN Position Papers on risk reduction and exercise at this link: 

Just check the lower portion of the right hand column to find links to the position papers.

Hope this helps!

Life is not measured by how many breaths we take...but by the moments that take our breath away! ...I am a 14/9 yr survivor of 2 Primary BCs, 23/23 Positive Nodes (Zometa x 5 years) Started Paloma-3 Clinical Trial 4-14-14 Dx 7/14/2000, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 1, 2/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 8/11/2000 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Chemotherapy 8/30/2000 AC + T (Taxol) Radiation Therapy 2/26/2001 Breast, Lymph nodes Hormonal Therapy 5/10/2001 Dx 11/21/2005, ILC, 5cm, Stage IIIC, Grade 1, 23/23 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Surgery 12/5/2005 Lymph node removal: Left, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right Chemotherapy 12/23/2005 Taxotere (docetaxel), Xeloda (capecitabine) Hormonal Therapy 4/7/2006 Aromasin (exemestane) Radiation Therapy 4/7/2006 Breast, Lymph nodes Dx 3/21/2014, ILC, Stage IV, mets, ER+/PR-, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 4/14/2014 Faslodex (fulvestrant)
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Dec 17, 2008 05:24AM Lisa1964 wrote:

Thanks Linda.  Not what I wanted here.  I will go to the lymphnet site.  Thanks for taking the time to respond.  Lisa

I attacked and I won! Dx 8/28/2008, IDC, <1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 1, 2/17 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Apr 9, 2013 05:52PM - edited Apr 9, 2013 05:54PM by linch

This Post was deleted by linch.

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