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Itching after a mastectomy


Re: Itching after a mastectomy

Hi Ashleighhb

Thank you for your post.

It sounds as though you are concerned as to whether your symptoms are normal which is understandable after breast cancer surgery.

Immediately after surgery for breast cancer and in the weeks that follow, it’s common to feel different sensations such as numbness and tightness in the scar area and under the arm. Stiffness in the shoulder and arm can also be experienced after surgery on the operated side and this is usually temporary.

Change in sensation when you have had lymph node surgery and a mastectomy can happen because the nerves under the arm and the chest have been disturbed during the surgery. These symptoms are usually temporary and improve or disappear in time as healing takes place, this can take a few months. 

You mention your upper arm feels stiff, as this is still persisting contact your team or a physiotherapist, they may be able to give you some exercises specifically to help with this.

As you are concerned about these symptoms check with your treatment team or breast care nurse that this is normal at this stage of your recovery. Although it may not be possible to relieve all your symptoms there are some treatments available that may help. Sometimes if your skin is dry it can cause itching so it may help to use a moisturiser on the area.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve had to take the difficult decision to suspend all of our face-to-face services for now. However, a Moving Forward online course has been set up as an alternative while face to face services are suspended. The course is open to people who have had a primary breast cancer diagnosis and have finished their hospital-based treatment within the last two years. 

The Helpline and Online Forum support services are all still running as usual.

If you would like to talk with another young woman diagnosed with breast cancer who understands, you can use our Someone Like Me service.

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.

Please be aware we will be closed on Saturday 7 November for training purposes. 

Best wishes


Breast Cancer Now Nurse

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Re: Itching after a mastectomy

Sorry, didn’t spot the Ask Our Nurses till too late. Reply removed x


Itching after a mastectomy


I had a mastectomy and full node clearance in June 2020. I have been well and healed quickly. As the cancer had only spread to 2 lymph nodes, I was offered a place on a trial which I took, I was then randomised into the arm where my cancer was tested and it suggested chemo would not benefit my cancer. I have therefore moved onto hormone therapy: a monthly zoladex injection and daily tamoxifen tablet. I am 46 years old.

In about the last 3-4 weeks I have been very itchy on and around my scar. As the skin on the chest area feels very thin, it’s quite uncomfortable to scratch. My arm is also quite itchy. I am still numb under my arm and a little towards the shoulder so I can never get to the itch. Is this normal? 

Finally, my upper arm and the scar has began to feel quite stiff. I have been exercising (Bootcamp and running) but it just feels tight. Is this normal too? 

Thank you in advance for any suggestions or help! 

apologies I have put thus post in the ‘Anything else section by mistake’