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Lymphedema And Breast Cancer In Women

Key Points To Keep In Mind About Lymphedema

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© American Cancer Society 2010

The following is a self-quiz to help you remember some of the important areas covered here. Try taking the quiz, then look at the answers below. If you have any questions or something is not clear, talk to your doctor or nurse.

1. To help prevent and control long-term swelling, remember hand and arm precautions:

a. for 6 weeks after surgery 
b. for 6 months after surgery 
c. until your doctor says you have developed new lymph pathways 
d. until you feel fine 
e. forever

2. To prevent infection in the affected arm:

a. cut your cuticles every week 
b. wear gloves when working with hot or sharp objects 
c. use an electric shaver 
d. stay out of bright sunlight 
e. b and c only

3. If swelling appears in the affected arm or hand soon after surgery:

a. raise the arm for 45 minutes 
b. call your doctor or nurse right away 
c. raise and support your hand or arm above the level of your heart, then open and close your hand 15 to 25 times 
d. a and c only 
e. a, b, and c

4. Call your doctor or nurse:

a. if the affected breast, hand, arm, or underarm (axilla) feels hot or is red or swollen 
b. if you have a temperature over 100.5 ' F 
c. if you want to shave your underarm with an electric shaver 
d. a and b only 
e. a, b, and c


  1. e -- Forever. Remember these precautions to help protect your arm and reduce your risk of ever getting lymphedema.
  2. e -- Wear gloves when working with hot or sharp objects. Use an electric shaver to prevent skin injury. Use a sunblock (SPF of 15 or higher) to prevent sunburn. Do not cut your cuticles; use lotion and a cuticle stick instead.
  3. d -- a and c only. Raise and support your arm for 45 minutes and open and close your hand 15 to 25 times. Repeat this 2 to 3 times.
  4. d -- a and b only. Call your doctor or nurse if you have symptoms that might mean an infection, such as if the affected arm or underarm feels hot or is red or swollen, or if you have a fever that is not related to a cold or flu.

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