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Study links arm/hand swelling to number of lymph nodes removed during breast cancer surgery
Date:4/23/2009

therapies and surgeon volume, the removal of more than five lymph nodes and the presence of cancer in the lymph nodes were the only two factors that predicted a risk for lymphedema. Most importantly, the number of lymph nodes removed is more predictive of the risk for lymphedema rather than the type of axillary surgery performed (sentinel lymph node biopsy versus axillary node dissection).

If no lymph nodes were removed, the risk for lymphedema was 4.7 percent. Removal of up to five lymph nodes did not increase the risk of lymphedema, when compared to the removal of no lymph nodes. However, the removal of between six and 15 lymph nodes increased that risk five-fold, and removal of 16 or more lymph nodes increased the risk of developing lymphedema by more than ten-fold. Given these findings, all women undergoing any axillary surgery should still be counseled on their risk for lymphedema, although this risk may be minimal for women who have fewer than five lymph nodes removed.


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Contact: Toranj Marphetia
toranj@mcw.edu
414-955-4700
Medical College of Wisconsin
Source:Eurekalert

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