What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is an abnormal collection of fluid underneath the skin. It usually occurs in the arm and hand, but sometimes it affects the breast, underarm, chest, trunk and/or back.

Although there is no way to know for sure if you will develop lymphedema after breast cancer, you can help yourself by learning more about it. The earliest signs of lymphedema can be subtle; for example, if your watch band begins to feel tight or your arm begins to feel heavy.

Know your risk factors, take steps to reduce your risk, and be aware of early symptoms. Left untreated, lymphedema can worsen and lead to permanent changes of the tissues under the skin, such as thickening, swelling, and scarring.

If you do develop lymphedema, it can be treated. Please contact your doctor as soon as possible to discuss a referral to a lymphedema specialist. Treatment may consist of massage and compression garments. Good results are available today with prompt intervention and compliance with treatment recommendations.