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Friday, March 7, 2014
I was recently diagnosed with lymphedema in left arm/hand, soon to be a year since I had double masectomy. I knew nothing about this, wasn`t warned of it, anything. Therapist has me wearing the compression arm/hand bandages, not too bad. I have early stages of lymphedema. What are the chances of getting lymphedema in other extremities? I pray that I don`t get it anywhere else. I`ve been through enough. Thank you for your time.
Lymphedema generally occurs only in an arm or leg that has had lymph nodes removed. If with your double mastectomy, you had lymph nodes removed on both sides, this is a possibility for the other arm. Factors that increase the risk of lymphedema are number of nodes removed, addition of radiation to lymph node areas, or cancer recurrence. Overuse of an arm, injury or infection, and rarely, long airplane travel, can encourage lymphedema. Try to wear gloves in the garden and when washing dishes to avoid cuts, and avoid repetitive arm exercise with weights over 10 pounds. Report any arm redness or sign of infection to your MD immediately so that antibiotics can be started. The National Cancer Institute has good information about lymphedema on its website.
Paula Silverman, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University