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Reducing the risk of lymphoedema

Most women who have lymph nodes removed, or who have radiotherapy to the lymph nodes, will not develop lymphoedema.It’s not possible to predict who will develop lymphoedema after breast cancer treatment. However, there are things that a woman can do that may help to reduce the risk.

  • Use the affected arm as normally as possible.
  • We don’t yet know whether procedures like blood samples, injections, intravenous drips or blood pressure monitoring increase the risk of lymphoedema. Therefore, as a precaution, use the unaffected arm for these procedures whenever possible.
  • It’s also important for women to know the early signs of lymphoedema, so that they can discuss them with a health professional.
Skin care Body care
  • Use moisturiser regularly to prevent dry skin
  • Use an electric razor for shaving to avoid cuts
  • Treat scratches, cuts and sores quickly
  • Avoid tattoos and body piercing
  • Avoid burns and sunburn
  • Protect the skin by wearing gloves for yard work, washing dishes or handling pets
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Follow a gentle exercise routine
  • Avoid hot baths, spas and saunas
  • Avoid tight clothes or jewellery
  • Avoid long periods of inactivity
  • Elevate and exercise the affected arm or leg when travelling long distances