Breast cancer surgery and lymphatic fluid

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 27, 2005

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Removing or sampling the lymph nodes during surgery for breast cancer can result in a severe build-up of lymphatic fluid that causes lymphedema in the arms or hands, note researchers at Ohio State University's School of Public Health.

Researchers found that slightly more than half of 580 women diagnosed with breast cancer in one study experienced such swelling after the surgical removal of a breast or tumor. The swelling generally occurred on the same side of the body as had their surgery, leading women to think their cancers had returned, said Electra Paskett, PhD, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics in the School of Public Health.

Dr. Paskett presented the findings on June 11 at the Defense Dept.'s Breast Cancer Research Program in Philadelphia.

While there is no cure, swelling can be reduced through massage or by wearing a compression garment, she said.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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