Swelling after lymph node removal. What to do?

Swelling after lymph node removal.  What to do?

“Following a diagnosis of breast cancer, my sentinel lymph node was removed together with the carcinoma. The histological examination of the lymph node was negative, as was the tissue around the carcinoma. One year after the operation, I continue to have mild swelling and the tissue between the breast and armpit feels tight, particularly after gardening or swimming.
I would be very grateful to receive information on the side effects of this type of intervention.”

Dear Reader,

the risk of developing post-surgical lymphedema after removal of the sentinel lymph node is very low, equal to approximately 4%, but it is not zero. I would therefore recommend a physiatric visit to a rehabilitation center dedicated to the care of women who have undergone breast surgery, and in particular lymphedema, to check whether the currently reported swelling can be considered post-surgical edema or whether it is instead the initial sign of lymphedema. secondary. In the first case, no rehabilitation strategy is necessary; in the second, an adequate therapy should be implemented both for preventive purposes and to organize a prospective surveillance program.

* Marzia Salgarello is Associate Professor of Plastic Surgery, Department of Plastic Surgery at the Agostino Gemelli University Polyclinic, SICPRE advisor.

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