Sunbathing and lymphoedema

Going on holiday this week to canaries and completely forgot to ask if it’s okay to sunbathe?
Im on tamoxifen after mastectomy 4 months ago (5 SNLB nodes all clear he meant to take 3 but 2 were attached to the breast tissue) no chemo or rads. Someone put the fear into me about not sunbathing or I will get lymphoedema! I will be using factor 30-50

thanks ladies xx

I am on Tamoxifen (but unlike you also had radiotherapy so have to avoid getting sunburnt). I recall reading somewhere about sun and Tamoxifen. If you are worried you could cover the affected area with a UV50 rashguard top. I picked up a pack of two in Mountain Warehouse clearance for under £18.

My understanding is that you need to take extra care not to get sunburned on the affected breast / shoulder maybe arm as well - also have you read the other thread about sun and Letrozole ? I would recommend reading the small print on your leaflet just in case - quite a few things seem to cause extra sensitivity to the sun . When I was in Tenerife we were warned to take extra care in the sun as although the islands are part of Europe geographically speaking they would be part of Africa and the sun is more fierce . Maybe you could drape a towel over that side some of the time or something.

Have a great time though xx

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You are at risk of lymphodema. I think you are supposed to avoid anything that stresses the lymph nodes on the affected arm. So no sunburn. I bought a long sleeved protection top to wear while swimming and sunbathing. Or used a high factor sun block.
You are also supposed to avoid: cuts and grazes on the affected arm, insect bites… i was told to keep my arm hydrated and always put loads of moisturiser.
I did develop lymphedema despite being careful. The doctors have absolutely no idea why some people do and others don’t.
Enjoy you holiday as much as you can.

Am slightly worried/anxious now……! We go tomorrow… this may not be the relaxing holiday I had hoped for then?!
I’m not going to be paranoid and going to enjoy myself ( my new mantra after breast cancer to enjoy every day) whilst using high factor spf/ not burning and staying hydrated and out of midday sun. :+1:

I’m sure it will be fine - put your sun cream on religiously factor 50 for your affected area / side and don’t forget insect repellant and to do the exercises . I’m sure you will be able to buy a suitable cover up while you are there if you don’t have one . There’s always the trusty sun umbrella as well.

At our recent BC support group one of the BCN team mentioned that long sleeve swimsuits are now fashionable - there are lots of pretty rash guards and sleeved cossies available on Amazon . I have some as I swim in the sea and cover up in the sun in Summer - but then I’m very fair skinned . Bit late for Amazon now but you have a good excuse to go on a shopping trip now while you’re there . Xx

Thank you. I will definitely be wearing spf 30-50 ( clinically hardly any difference between the 2) and will cover up out walking but don’t want to wear a rash vest as i will be white on top with brown legs! I will find a happy medium I’m sure ( I’m olive skin) . X

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Well that’s good and you didn’t have rads ( which I did) . Yeah I get the not wanting 2 tone skin but reapply your SPF before swimming or boat trips as you don’t know you’re burning when in the water and the sun can reflect back off the water as well.

Have a great time xx

Thanks Joanne for all your helpful tips! Really appreciate you taking the time xx

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Hi @joyousjen After surgery, (mastectomy, DIEP and SLNB) my physio told me that you’re at much, much lower risk of lymphoedema with an SLNB than axillary clearance - only about 5% - so said to not worry about it! (Which I don’t).
I’m slightly more sensitive to the sun on letrozole, but I think that’s quite common with all endocrine therapy, including tamoxifen. I’d slap on the sunscreen, have a bit of shade at midday, relax and have a fantastic time! xx


I went on holiday after treatment , wore factor 30-50, on Letrozole, only had sentinal lymph node removed , no issues at all. Just ensured i didnt get burnt ie dont over do your time in sun , find a sunbed with a brolly and keep hydrated and reapply often ! It was 38degrees when i went to Turkey in June last year.
Enjoy your break in thd sun :sun_with_face:


Diddy1 thank you so much!!! Makes me feel so much better! X

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Teresa thank you so much!
We are about to go to bed cos up about 3am and I am so happy to hear this!!! Xxxx


A couple of months after starting on tamoxifen, after I sat outside a cafe in England to enjoy a burst of late February sunshine, after around 15 minutes I realised I had become sunburned with a rash on my face. This had never happened to me before and I put it down to tamoxifen.
I dug out any Sunhats, keeping a cloth one in my bag from then on.
I stocked up on cheap long, loose trousers, socks, long-sleeved blouses, hats & scarves and this was my summer uniform. My rash vest also came in useful - didn’t feel like swimming outside though.
It didn’t matter. It was cheaper, more comfortable and less time consuming and therefore more reliable than constantly slapping on sun cream.

It’s now 2 years later and I find that although I still feel the need to be very careful I have stopped getting instant sunburn and rash from being outside.

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Hi, I can recommend Eucerin 100 SPF, Im currently in 38 degrees in Asia and this cream is the best protection you could wish for. I used it a few months after my op last year and was amazing…

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At airport now. I’m just going to enjoy as much as possible while being sensible. Can’t change my wardrobe in my case now so quite happy with the 7 bikinis! Thanks for the spf recommendation . Weather not too hot just now just 70 degrees which is perfect .
Thanks everyone x

Enjoy Asia Ell! X

I have lymphodema in my right arm and just take extra care on that side in the sun
I try stay in shade and if not cover that side with my sarong
Wear factor 50 but still enjoy the sea and swimming
Its just a matter of being aware so have a lovely time :ok_hand:

I went to Geneva in August 22 as soon as the surgeon allowed me to travel after my lymph nodes clearance (6-7 weeks after surgery). I did not worry about the sun, but then it was no longer so strong that late in the summer. It was a really joyous time, and I managed to swim nearly every day in lake! Surely that must be doing us good to swim. So far, touch wood, no lymphodema.

Yeah definitely good to swim as I do frequently - wish I had had the chance to swim in lake Geneva when I was there actually. I didn’t mean my post to come over as recommending not swimming just that I did get my back burned one year in Portugal - it was only April - having said that I do do burn easily and lose track of time when I’m in the water whether it’s the pool the med or the North Sea in Winter . So my advice was just to take extra care with sun cream etc. for swimming one of my friends wears a little TShirt sometimes when swimming for extra protection.

Have a great time Jen and Ell - and being to able to rock a bikini - well that’s certainly something to celebrate and to do if you can . It’s the very definition of recovery :blush: . Xx