What Is Lymphedema?

Question from skwlcat:I had breast cancer 3 years ago. I had a lumpectomy and 24 lymph nodes removed because the cancer had spread. After 6 months of chemo and 3 months of radiation I developed lymphedema. No one ever talks about lymphedema. I think it is a hidden problem. It happens to a lot of women who have had breast cancer. It is a 24 hour a day job to keep it under control. We need help! Please talk about this on GMA.skwlcat from NY

Answer from Karleen Habin, R.N., nurse consultant for OnCall+: Breast Cancer: Lymphedema is defined by the National Cancer Institute as "A condition in which excess fluid collects in tissue and causes swelling. It may occur in the arm after lymph vessels or lymph nodes in the underarm are removed or treated with radiation." Lymphedema can range from mild to severe. With the advent of the sentinel node biopsy procedure; rates of lymphedema have decreased substantially. Lymphedema specialists can now be found throughout the U.S. providing lymphedema management training and services. For more information please review these following sites: http://www.breastcancer.org/search.jsp?terms=Lymphedema or http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/lymphedema for more information