Q. I definitely want to avoid lymphedema. Is there anything I can do to ward it off, or is lymphedema totally random? A. The very best thing you can do to help prevent lymphedema is to make sure you get full range of motion back in your arm, whether after surgery or radiation. Favoring the arm on your affected side, hunching your shoulder protectively, being too stiff to stretch your arm up over your head and around towards your back–these are all things that will make it easier for lymphedema to gain a foothold. I have a friend who’s a physical therapist specializing in lymphedema treatment. In fact, we became close as she gave me daily massages to relieve my own swollen arm. (Just as getting a tummy tuck is the silver lining of a tram flap reconstruction, a daily massage is the big plus of having lymphedema!) This friend says that women who’ve had surgery, particularly a mastectomy with lymph node removal (even if just a single node) need physical thera...
More things to look for on your pathology report - my last post on pathology reports covered histology, margins and grade. Other important things a pathologist will consider:
Size of the Breast Cancer (Measured in cm)
This is somewhat an approximation of the size in diameter of a three dimensional tumor - looking for the widest point. Breast cancer can sometimes be shaped oddly - think of a bow turned on itself in which case it would look like two separate focuses of cancer - the skillful pathologist will comment on the actual size and whether the cancer is one site "focus" or many sites (multifocal). The smaller the size of the cancer, the better.
Lymph Nodes (Sentinel and Other)
The most important prognostic feature of breast cancer is still felt to be the involvement of lymph nodes with cancer - the # of involved lymph nodes and some features of lymph node involvement being key.
The sentinel lymph node(s) is/are the "draining" lymph nodes from th...
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