Breast Cancer Overview

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After Treatment TOPICS

Lymphedema after breast cancer treatment

Lymphedema is a swelling of the arm caused by fluid build-up. It can occur any time after treatment for breast cancer, either right after surgery or months, or even years later. There is no way to know who will and will not develop lymphedema.

With care, lymphedema can often be avoided or kept under control. Injury or infection of the arm on the affected side can cause lymphedema or make it worse. Tell your doctor right away about any swelling, tightness, or injury to the hand or arm. There are ways to help prevent problems. For instance, most doctors suggest that women avoid having blood drawn from or blood pressures taken on the arm on the side of the lymph node surgery or radiation. To learn more, see our document, Lymphedema: What Every Woman With Breast Cancer Should Know.

Last Medical Review: 09/17/2013
Last Revised: 01/31/2014