Spring 2004
Post-Treatment Swelling in Your Arms or Legs:
Don't Ignore it!

You've made it safely through the diagnosis of breast cancer, the anxiety of surgery, and the many dis-comforts of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, thanks to your physicians' expertise and the support of your family. Now you´re so glad to be alive and well, you think a little afternoon swelling in your arm is just a trifle-too small to mention to your doctor.

Think again.

"That slight swelling may be the first stage of a condition called lymphedema, which can occur after cancer treatment that affects the lymph nodes," says Lisa Webb, MD, chief of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at Bridgeport Hospital. Your lymph system is a network of vessels and nodes (small, hard, bean-shaped structures) that drains fluids from your body tissues. Treatment on or near the lymph nodes can interfere with the drainage of fluids from your body. When the fluids build up, they cause swelling. If not dealt with, lymphedema can become so severe the limb becomes too swollen to move.

"Lymphedema can occur in arms or legs. It can't be cured, but it can be treated and controlled," says Vikki Winks, PT, a certified lymphedema therapist at Ahlbin Rehabilitation Centers. "With a special kind of massage to promote drainage, plus compression techniques, exercises, and education, our Lymphedema Program can help reduce your swelling and help you prevent it from happening again."

So you can keep on hugging your loved ones, swinging a golf club, riding your bike, working in your garden, and doing all the things you love!

For more information about the Lymphedema Program, or for a referral to an expert physician, call us, 24/7, at 888-357-2396.