Lymphedema: Estimating the Risk for Patients with Breast Cancer

This maybe of interest to those of you treated for breast cancer and who have had lymph nodes removed .. ..thanks Dr Michael Hunter for this…


The development of breast cancer-related lymphedema is tied closely to how many nodes are removed by surgery. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy can also increase risk. A recent study from Korea (published in (check out the length of the this name!) International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics, 2013) attempted to estimate the risk of lympededema based on combinations of these treatment factors.

The Study: The authors looked at 772 patients with breast cancer. All had primary surgery with axillary node dissection from 2004 to 2009. The study looked back at these patients (retrospective analysis). Adjuvant chemotherapy was given to 677 patients. Of the 675 who got radiation therapy, 35% had a component directed at the nodes above the collarbone (supraclavicular nodes).

Results: Half of patients were followed beyond 5.1 years. The 5 year cumulative chance of getting edema was 17%. Of these 76% developed it in the first 2 years…

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6 thoughts on “Lymphedema: Estimating the Risk for Patients with Breast Cancer

  1. Helen , incredible how you keep coming up with interesting info. You should make this your full-time job (it is probably already)…cus you provide us with update info and personal stories that is trustworthy ! can i donate somewhere;)so you can continue untill there is a cure?:)
    this text is interesting…and it shows also that the less nodes removed the less damafe. there are however people that do develop le after sentinel node biopsy and i guess that those are people like me…lymfescintography showed that i have only few nodes …like 4 or something like that at my arms and legs…however there are only visible signs of le in one leg. but i can imagine that even when i belonged to the group ‘less then 10 nodes removed’ – i would end up with huuuug problems, since that would mean they took them alll….
    gives a good insight…and waiting for artificial nodes or growth factor. they should even invest more money in le cure research…We need a famous person putting their shoulders undr it like a foster parent … anyone? tips? we should lobby for this so that march 2014 finally le awareness is everywhere!!!

    • Yes a famous person… But I would not wish this on anyone!! We keep plugging away one story at a time..,even if we could find a way to control it better.. I Could also thank you for the help you have given me too…I am not giving up…Helen

  2. Yes, maybe I did not express me correct… I do not wish this on anybody . I think just it is strange that like in my country, there are a lot of benefits for cancer research with very impressive shows on the tv, famous people collecting money,… But nobody speaks about le.. very strange. That is why maybe it could be good for someone famous to start to raise awareness.. like fe Angelina Jolie started a big controverse with her surgery… which is good to start, that way people start to talk about it. And people do not feel alone with their big decisions ahead…

    • I understand what you mean… But often it is only when someone is touched by an illness… A relative or friend that action starts. We can use the internet to spread the word and maybe someone will take that up…

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