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Cancer treatment can have side effects, such as:
If you have any concerns about these health problems, consult your doctor.
Sentinel node biopsy, axillary dissection, breast surgery and radiation therapy can lead to musculoskeletal complications in breast cancer patients. Some of these complications are reversible, especially if managed promptly. The most complex of these aftereffects is lymphedema. Lymphedema is a swelling caused by an accumulation of lymph in the soft tissues near the organ where the lymph nodes have been removed or damaged by treatment. It is characterized by swelling of the arm and hand, and difficulty moving the limb.
Here are some precautions to take to reduce the risk of developing lymphedema in your arm in the weeks following surgery:
Research has shown that the onset of lymphedema is more common in people who are overweight or who have gained weight since surgery. Therefore, it is recommended to maintain a healthy weight.
Chemotherapy can cause damage to the nervous system (neuropathy), which involves the following symptoms:
Damage varies depending on the chemotherapeutic agent received and the dose administered. These symptoms are often temporary. Sometimes neuropathy lasts for a while or only appears months or years after treatment. Consequently, you may need medication, physio or occupational therapy or hearing aids to help you adjust to these changes.
If you experience neuropathic symptoms during treatment, your care team may decide to stop or reduce your chemotherapy until symptoms subside, to prevent damage to your nervous system.