Lymphedema & Breast Cancer

There are more than 2.4 million breast cancer survivors in the US with approximately 189,000 new breast cancer diagnoses every year. One common and feared negative side effect of breast cancer treatment is lymphedema.

Breast Cancer Surgery

The goal of curative breast cancer treatment is to remove all cancer cells from the body. These treatments generally include surgery, radiotherapy, and various drug therapies. The two types of curative therapies most closely linked to lymphedema risk are surgery and radiotherapy (commonly known as radiation). As the number of lymph nodes surgically removed increases, so does the likelihood that the survivor will develop lymphedema.

A surgical procedure called sentinel lymph node biopsy has decreased the incidence of lymphedema compared with the full axillary dissections because this approach removes fewer nodes. There is evidence that the risk of lymphedema may be increased by as much as 48% among women who undergo radiotherapy.

Lymphedema After Breast Cancer Treatment

Lymphedema is characterized by swelling of the hand, arm, breast, or torso on the affected side. It is considered the most problematic and dreaded concern after treatment for breast cancer. Conservative estimates suggest that 20-30% of breast cancer survivors will experience lymphedema.

Physical changes with lymphedema are associated with skin changes, loss of sensation and limb function, and pain of varying intensity and frequency. Breast cancer survivors find lymphedema more distressing than a mastectomy, as it is more difficult to hide the physical manifestation.

Breast lymphedema will increase your risk of skin infection in that area. If you notice unusual redness, tenderness, and swelling of the breast, please contact your physician.

Lymphedema Therapy

If you experience any of the above symptoms after lymph node removal and/or radiation, please contact your physician and find a lymphedema therapist immediately. Lymphedema does not go away on its own. It needs to be treated by an expert in lymphatic drainage.

Lymphatic Drainage of the Breast

Swelling of the breast and underarm is often debilitating and painful. Lymphatic drainage of the breast is painless and will release your symptoms immediately.

We have a variety of bras and camisoles that will be helpful in containing the lymphedema in the chest/breast area.

Please call us with any questions regarding lymphedema, lymphedema care, and garment solutions.

Phone: (303) 803-0674
FAQ’s: Please refer to Lymphedema FAQ page.

Lymphedema Support

National Lymphedema Network:

Lymphedema Awareness Foundation:

Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization: