The Lakeside clinic is very privileged to have two very experienced occupational therapists in the team who have great expertise in the prevention, diagnosis and management of lymphoedema. Lymphoedema is a build up of fluid that can occur in the arm following treatments for breast cancer.
It is most commonly seen following axillary dissection (removal of all the lymph nodes in the armpit) and/or following radiation treatment to the armpit. Other things such as certain chemotherapy agents are also known to increase the risk of developing lymphoedema. For most women who undergo sentinel lymph node biopsy only, the risk of developing lymphoedema is very small, perhaps in the order of 1%. On the other hand, the risk is significantly higher after complete removal of the lymph glands in the armpit. Patients undergoing axilliary surgery are assessed pre operatively by either Louise Koelmeyer or Brenda Gutierrez, who will do a Bio impedance testing (a bit like having an ECG tracing of your heart), to establish what your current lymphatic flow is like. After your surgery you will be re tested to see if there has been any change. If there has been a significant change, Louise or Brenda will be able to develop a detailed management plan to help correct this for you. In addition to base line testing Louise and Brenda will also give you a series of exercises and arm care instructions for after your surgery. They will also be able to advise you on such things as wearing sleeves on long haul air flights.