Lymphedema involves a swelling in certain areas of the body that occurs as a result of a blockage within the lymphatic system, and is a common side effect of surgery or radiation therapy performed to treat breast cancer. Your doctor can diagnose lymphedema through a physical examination and measurement of the affected areas in comparison to unaffected areas. If significant lymphedema is noted, treatment may be administered through physical therapy, massage, compression banding or exercise.
Patients can prevent lymphedema by avoiding muscle strain, tight clothing, infection, burns and by maintaining a healthy weight. It is also important to follow your doctor’s instructions for post-treatment care of the breasts.