Swelling on the other side...

I also posted similar on the lymphoedema thread…

I just wondered if anyone has experienced swelling of the breast that was not operated on?

I had a lumpectomy and removal of 18 nodes in May ‘07, then chemo and rads. It’s only recently that I’ve noticed that I’m much more lopsided, i.e. the left breast seems swollen, tighter, with more prominent veins. I had a routine check-up and mammogram in 3 weeks’ time, so will obviously check it out then.

Also has anyone had lymphatic drainage treatment, which I believe is hard to come by, but there’s a private practitioner fairly local to me, who I saw once and keep meaning to go back to, but it’s costly! She suggested that because the lymph nodes were removed from the right armpit, the ones on the non-affected breast had to work overtime… And does anyone know if radiotherapy to one breast area could spill over on to the other side.

Any comments welcome.

Ali x

Hi Ali

No, I’ve not experienced swelling of the other breast…could it be that the other one has shrunk?

I paid for private MLD from 1999 to 2007 (until I moved to France, where it is covered by the Health Service), as it was nigh-on impossible to get any from my local NHS lymphoedema clinic, even tho’ I’d had it in both arms from 2004 onwards.

When I left the UK, it was costing me nearly £40 per hour for treatment and I know there are people on here have been charged more than that, especially in London and the SE. I did find it very helpful tho’, especially as it wasn’t rushed and you got a full 60 mins worth of treatment. Plus, my therapist was a mine of lymphoedema information.

I’m slightly puzzled by the notion that the lymph nodes in the opposite, undamaged, axilla will pick up the slack. I don’t think they can do this without assistance (ie, MLD) as the lymph fluid has to be deliberately moved across the ‘watersheds’, the boundaries that divide up the lymphatic system into territories; it cannot find its way there on its own. This is unfortunate, as this would mean that lymphoedema would be much less likely to occur.

As to your last question on the enlargement of other breast, I’m not sure - I suppose this is possible, depending on where the radiotherapy was targeted, but I’m no expert.

Wishing you well and more ansers to your queries!