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Topic: Lymphedema before any surgery

Forum: Lymphedema — Risks, tips for prevention, and info about products that can address the symptoms of lymphedema.

Posted on: Jan 3, 2018 07:18AM

Npreece wrote:

I am currently going through chemotherapy. I have not had surgery yet...My breast tumor is 4 cm and I have at least 4 lymph nodes that are positive. My arm hurts from the shoulder...sometimes down to my wrist. It comes and it goes. I have noticed that my shirts are also a bit tight on that side too. I told my doctor that I thought it was lymphedema. He didn't agree or disagree. I do get relief from raising my arm above my head and from massaging it lightly. Should I be concerned? Should I be doing therapy so this doesn't advance? Has anyone else experienced this before having lymph nodes removed?

Dx 11/3/2017, IDC, Right, 4cm, Stage IIIA, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (IHC)
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Jan 3, 2018 09:58AM - edited Jan 3, 2018 10:00AM by hugz4u

Welcome. I don't know all your specs. If you had radiation it definately could be le. Or perhaps your cancer nodes are not allowing proper drainage. I hope someone knows and comes on board.

Go to stepup-speakout.org for le education and to find a qualified lymphedema person in your area. Great site our girls here developed.

Knowledge is power and generally speakingyou probably know more about lymphedema than your doc who has had only a few minutes education on le.

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Jan 3, 2018 10:16AM buttonsmachine wrote:


I had some pretty bad non-lymphedema swelling during chemo, which was a reaction to one of the drugs they gave me. The swelling lasted for months after chemo stopped and my MO was perplexed by that. It eventually resolved. Aside from that, I do have truncal lymphedema that followed my surgery. Also, I do know a few people who got lymphedema even though they never had cancer or cancer treatment.

It's so hard to say. Cancer treatment can be a wild ride. Hopefully between seeing your MO and a CLT you can sort out what is going on. I hope you find some answers and best wishes to you!

Initial diagnosis at 32 years old. Chest wall resection 18 months later due to skin metastasis, probably from needle track seeding during initial biopsy. Skin graft from right thigh! Dx 8/2016, IDC, Right, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 10/1/2016 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Chemotherapy 11/1/2016 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 2/1/2017 Whole-breast Hormonal Therapy 5/1/2017 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Dx 9/2017, IDC, Right, Grade 3, 2/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 11/1/2017 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Chemotherapy 12/27/2017 AC Dx 1/2018, IDC, Right, Grade 3, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 3/13/2018 Lymph node removal: Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Right Radiation Therapy 5/14/2018 Chest wall Hormonal Therapy 6/30/2018 Zoladex (goserelin) Chemotherapy 7/1/2018 Xeloda (capecitabine)
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Jan 3, 2018 03:04PM Binney4 wrote:

Npreece, welcome! Sorry about your reasons for being here, but glad you found us. It's always a good idea to hook up with a well-trained lymphedema therapist BEFORE surgery, for baseline arm measurements, personalized tips on reducing your lymphedema risk, and to learn a gentle self-massage for reducing swelling. And to help determine what's up with the swelling!

If this is your left arm that's swelling, and your port is on the left side, then it's possible the port is pressing against the main lymphatic vessel and reducing lymph flow to that area. It is rare, and can affect both legs as well, since that vessel drains the left arm and the legs. If so, it will resolve when the port is removed. Lymphedema is also possible when cancer blocks lymph flow, but since you are being treated for that, we'll look forward with you to that resolving as well.

As buttons points out, chemo itself can sometimes cause swelling, but that is not usually restricted to one arm only. Best bet is to get any doctor on your team to refer you to a qualified lymphedema therapist. In the meantime, we're all rooting for your smooth sailing through the rest of your treatment.

Please let us know what you discover, and tell us how we can help!

Gentle hugs,

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