A recent study on Lymphedema indicates a side effect for up to 15% of women treated for breast cancer. It can be triggered after the removal of under arm lymph nodes and can develop into severe, painful swelling in the arm impairing it’s use. Treatment for this chronic condition is limited. But with the help of 100 breast cancer survivors, researchers at McMaster University compared the standard approach of wearing an elastic sleeve with a more experimental option that included daily lymphatic massage. Dr. Ian Dayes with the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine says the results were surprising: “We were actually calculating the size of the arms, based on circumferenctial tape measurements, and then we’d use a special formula and calculate up the actual volume of the arm, and then compare that to the unaffected arm. And it was really the difference between the two arms that we were looking at. And at the end of the day, we found that those patients that had the experimental treatment, they had a 29 percent reduction in their excess volume,while the patients that were on the standard treatment had a 23% reduction. So at the end of the day, the difference between the two groups was only 6%.”
Research is continuing in this field. Dr. Dayes says some are studying lyposuction, plastic surgery and even stem cell treatments. But results are still a long way off.