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Is lymphodema possible 18 months after surgery?


Re: Is lymphodema possible 18 months after surgery?

Hi Multitasker


Thanks for posting


It’s natural to wonder what is causing this swelling and understandable that you’ve been hoping it would just go away.


Lymphoedema is swelling caused by a build-up of lymph fluid in the surface tissues of the body.This can happen as a result of damage to the lymphatic system following surgery and/or radiotherapy to the armpit (axilla).


Lymphoedema can develop soon after treatment or may occur many years later so it’s possible that the swelling in your hand and fingers may be due to lymphoedema. The risk is greatest for those who have both surgery and radiotherapy to the axilla (armpit). People who have had a number of lymph nodes removed also have a higher risk than people who had a sentinel node biopsy (only).


Symptoms of lymphoedema include swelling in the arm, hand, fingers, breast or chest wall on the side of the body where you had your surgery or radiotherapy. The arm can feel tight and uncomfortable and the skin can become dry.


While we cannot say if the swelling you have noticed is lymphoedema, it would be a good idea to contact your treatment team to get this checked and find out the cause.  If you have been discharged from the hospital, your GP can refer you back to your treatment team for an assessment.


Do call our Helpline if you would like to talk this through or have any further questions. Your call will be confidential and the number is free from UK landlines and all mobile networks.

The number is 0808 800 6000 (Text relay prefix 18001).


Our opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am - 4pm and 9am -1pm on Saturday. Out of hours you can leave a message and we will call you back when we next open.


Best wishes




Breast Cancer Now Nurse


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Is lymphodema possible 18 months after surgery?


Do you know if it is possible to develop Lymphodema 18 months after surgery?

I had a lumpectomy with 8 nodes removed followed by chemo and radiotherapy.

After surgery I did physio for a few weeks and was lucky that I regained full movement in my arm with no signs of lymphodema. Since then I have remained active and a healthy weight.

Suddenly and for no apparent cause, I have developed swelling in my hand particularly between my index and third finger and a strong tightness along my arm to my armpit, almost in a line.

This has been going on for 3 weeks and to be honest I have been sticking my head in the sand just hoping it will go away.

Is this likely to be lymphodema after all this time?