Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Mastectomy Arm Swelling Underlying Cause

The lymph glands in the armpit receive lymph fluid from the breast and the arm. Lymph fluid contains waste products from cells. Lymph eventually is deposited into the blood stream.

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.

Continue to Mastectomy Arm Swelling Anatomy

Last Updated: Jul 7, 2009 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Mastectomy Arm Swelling 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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