Full Node Clearance Op

Just finished chemo after having mastectomy & sentinal node biopsy in Feb.

I will be having full node clearance on 19th August as a trace of cancer was found in one of the two lypmh nodes removed during my SNB.

Just wanting to get a feel of the after effects of the full node clearance op really. I know recovery times are different for everyone (and I was out of hospital within 24 hours after the mastectomy) but does the clearance op take longer to get over?

Also found out today that depending on the results of biopsies on the remaining nodes, I may have to have rads. I know it’s all belt and braces, and I’ll take anything they throw at me but just wondered if anyone else also had treatment in the same order - surgery, chemo, clearance op, rads?



Hi Fabforty

I had full lymph node clearance 2 weeks after my mx, after cancer was found in 2 of the 3 nodes tested. I went in on the Fri morning for my lunchtime op. I had been a bit sick after the general aneasthetic for my mx and mentioned this to Dr. They changed my aneasthetic and when I woke after my op I felt good. My arm was a wee bit stiff and sore but nothing major. I think it was just paracetomol I got. There was a drain in which had to remain in for 7 days as there was quite a lot of fluid draining. I was able to have a shower and do my hair next morning. Hope your ok

Good luck

Carolyn x

Hi Leah
I didn’t have things in the same order, as my node clearance & lumpectomy were done together, followed by chemo, then rads. My recovery was complicated by the fact that every time I had chemo, the site became very painful, tight & sore, according to onc this is quite common, but I never met anyone else it happened to. You won’t have this problem though, having had your chemo already. The worst thing seems to be the possibility of lymphoedema, which I don’t have thankfully, also you can get cording, which there are several threads/posts about-if you search the site you should find stuff about it. They will give you stretching exercises to do & they are important, the 1 year anniversary of my op is fast approaching, & I still really know about it if I haven’t done them. They will also tell you NEVER to let anyone give you injections, or take blood from the arm on the affected side. I don’t let them do my B.P on that arm either.
Good luck with it all

Hi Leah

Here’s the link to our publication ‘reducing the risk of lymphoedema’ which you may find useful to read:


Best wishes

I had a WLE and full axillary clearance at the same time. I found the main side-effect was that my arm felt very heavy and numb. Some degree of numbness continues to this day - two and half years post surgery. In the greater scheme of things this is no great hardship. You should be aware of the risks of lymphoedema: it may seem nit-picking but it is really important to protect the skin on your affected arm: no injections, no blood pressure readings, no insect bites, no blood samples… just keep the beggars AWAY from the UPPER QUADRANT of the body affected. This is not always easy because even senior health professionals can grab your ‘dodgy’ arm and start sticking pins in it but you must be FIRM and say ‘NO’… and, if all else`fails - beat them off with a big stick!

Good luck with your treatment,

Hi Leah

I had lymph clearance and mx 2 weeks ago, and I’m not doing too badly.

I’m stiff but can just about get my arm vertical, although not quite touching my ear. I had a drain in for a week, but came home the day after surgery as I was happy to manage the drainage bag (so much better to recoup at home). I have a seroma which is uncomfortable but not the end of the world and I’m managing to get around with my toddler in the buggy and have been lifting her in and out of the cot since a week after surgery.

For me, the worst thing is the altered sensation and numbness but even that’s manageable. I have a feeling of sunburn down the back of my arm and my armpit feels very sore inside, but obviously it just takes time to heal (I think some numbness remains forever).

I didn’t have treatments in the same order because there was already evidence of cancer in the nodes, so I had mx and lymph clearance, chemotherapy due to start soon and then it’ll be tamoxifen and radiotherapy to my armpit as so many nodes are affected. I’m not sure yet if I’ll accept the rads as there’s a much bigger risk of lymphoedema and lung damage, so the onc said. Needs to weigh up the risks/benefits once I have the stats.

Good luck with the op xxx Jane

Hi. i am due to have full node clearance next Weds and have just read all your comments. Thank you for all your advice - It is the most useful and informed advice I have had so far and feel I know much more about what to expect and what to look out for.
Leah, I had been told that I would need to do my excercises but I didn’t realise that I would still be doing them one year later! Not that it matters - I’ll do anything that will help me to recover - but it is really good to know.
Alex G, I had no idea about all the stuff about protecting the skin of my affected arm! Thanks for the advice.
Jane, like you I’ve been told to expect chemo and rads to follow so I will keep you informed.

thanks to all of you and good luck with your treatment.

love Elaine