Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Arm Swelling after Mastectomy Overview

Another name for Arm Swelling after Mastectomy is Post Mastectomy Arm Swelling.

What is post mastectomy arm swelling?
A woman with post mastectomy arm swelling has swelling of the arm that occurs after lymph nodes in the armpit are removed. During mastectomy, the lymph glands are removed from the armpit, because they may contain breast cancer cells. Once the lymph glands are removed, lymph fluid is not emptied from the arm. In turn, post mastectomy arm swelling is caused by the buildup of lymph in the arm after surgery. About 3 to 10 percent of women who undergo mastectomy develop post mastectomy arm swelling.

What are the symptoms of post mastectomy arm swelling?
Symptoms that occur with post mastectomy arm swelling may include arm pain or arm tenderness.

How does the doctor treat post mastectomy arm swelling?
Treatment for post mastectomy arm swelling includes arm elevation, physical therapy, an elastic support stocking, and a low salt diet.

Continue to Arm Swelling after Mastectomy Incidence

Last Updated: Feb 11, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Arm Swelling after Mastectomy References
  1. Galland C, Auvert JF, Flahault A, Vayssairat M. Why and how post-mastectomy edema should be quantified in patients with breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2002 Sep;75(1):87-9. [12500937]
  2. Geller BM, Vacek PM, O'Brien P, Secker-Walker RH. Factors associated with arm swelling after breast cancer surgery. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2003 Nov;12(9):921-30. [1467017]
  3. Johansson K, Tibe K, Weibull A, Newton RC. Low intensity resistance exercise for breast cancer patients with arm lymphedema with or without compression sleeve. Lymphology. 2005 Dec;38(4):167-80. [16515225]
  4. O'Brien JG, Chennubhotla SA, Chennubhotla RV. Treatment of edema. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Jun 1;71(11):2111-7. [15952439]
  5. Schulze T, Mucke J, Markwardt J, Schlag PM, Bembenek A. Long-term morbidity of patients with early breast cancer after sentinel lymph node biopsy compared to axillary lymph node dissection. J Surg Oncol. 2006 Feb 1;93(2):109-19. [16425290]
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