LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- There are more than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. One in five of those will be diagnosed with lymphedema. It’s a painful swelling usually in one or both arms. There’s a new super-microsurgical procedure that may prevent it.
Veda Jackson, breast cancer survivor, picked up crocheting about a year ago. She got needles and yarn and got hooked! It took her mind off her diagnosis.
“I was diagnosed with stage three metastasis, breast cancer because it had spread to my lymph nodes,” Jackson told Ivanhoe.
Jackson was at risk of developing lymphedema after having a mastectomy and 13 lymph nodes removed.
“The lymphatic fluid that is all part of our body. Can no longer drain the arm. And as a result, it resides in the arm and causes a lot of swelling,” Christopher Reid, MD, plastic and reconstructive surgeon at UC San Diego Health, said.
Now, at the time of the mastectomy, surgeons are using immediate lymphatic reconstruction to prevent it from happening at all.
“When the lymphatics are getting injured at the time of surgery, why not try to fix them with what we call super-microsurgical techniques,” Dr. Reid said.
UC San Diego surgeon Christopher Reid “re-plumbs” the drainage routes of the nodes. Using a microscope, Dr. Reid reconnects any disrupted channels. Many are smaller than the size of a single strand of hair.
Reid detailed, “If I had a family member, a mother, a sister, a friend who was undergoing breast cancer therapy, I would 100% offer this to them.”
Other than adding time in the operating room Reid said there is no additional risk to the patient. The treatments worked no lymphedema.
“I feel great. Oh no, I feel great. Blessed, wonderful. All of those things,” Jackson described,
Today she’s spending less time at work, thankful she has this time with family.
Breast cancer patients who are getting radiation or are obese have a greater risk of developing lymphedema. This technique may also be used to prevent leg lymphedema caused by lymph node removal in the groin area.
Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Rusty Reed, Videographer; Ken Ashe, Editor.