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2802 Reducing the risk of Lymphoedema

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Lymphoedema is a swelling caused by the buildup of lymph fluid and may occur following surgery or radiotherapy for breast cancer. If you develop lymphoedema after breast cancer treatment you will find that it most commonly affects your arm, hand, breast or chest area on the same side as the breast that was treated. The lymph nodes are part of the body's drainage system and there are a number of them around your breast and in your armpit. During your treatment for breast cancer some of the lymph nodes and vessels may have been damaged or removed so that the normal processes no longer work, and as a result fluid can build up in the surrounding tissues. Lymphoedema may develop soon after surgery, and usually settles within a short time without any treatment, but it can occur months or even many years afterwards. Once you have lymphoedema, it can be controlled and its symptoms respond well to treatment, but doesn't ever go away completely. It’s not known exactly what causes lymphoedema or why some people suffer and others don’t. However, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of being affected by it. Your Breast Care Team will talk to you about a period of rest post surgery to allow the healing process to take place. Once healing is complete, it is expected that you should be able to use your arm normally, although it is recommended that you should gradually increase your exercise and stop exercising if you notice any pain, discomfort or swelling. Swimming and walking help as they keep your joints supple and aid lymph drainage. We know that increased body weight is a risk factor for developing lymphedema so you should you should try to keep a healthy body weight through exercise and a balanced diet. You need to look after the skin on your ‘at risk arm’ and avoid the risk of an infection which could also trigger lymphoedema. There are many ways you can do this but the key principles are about keeping the skin on your arm and hands moist and protecting them against damage that could caused by cuts, scratches sunburn, or insect bites. So keeping your hands and arms moist using an un-perfumed moisturiser is important, and you should use gardening gloves and washing-up gloves, as well as insect repellents. You should also avoid tight fitting bras, sleeves and clothing as well as heavy shoulder bags. Also, make sure your watches, rings and bracelets aren’t too tight. You also avoid having your blood pressure or blood samples taken from your at risk arm. If you do damage your skin, clean the area and apply an antiseptic solution or cream to prevent an infection developing. If you notice a rash or that your arm becomes red, hot and painful, contact your GP as soon as possible. And if you notice any swelling of your arm, hand, fingers, breast or chest wall it is important that you tell your breast care team as soon as possible.

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Duration: 3 minutes and 8 seconds
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Language: English
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Views: 11
Posted by: richardwh on Nov 16, 2015

2802 Reducing the risk of Lymphoedema

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