Prevention Of Complications And Treatment Of Breast Cancer Treatment

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There are approximately 140 million people living with lymphedema. Out of those 140 million 20 million developed lymphedema as a result of breast cancer treatment. Lymphedema is the accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the tissues surrounding a lymph node. Lymphedema occurs when there is a disruption in the lymphatic system caused by either a congenital abnormality or can be caused by surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, injury, infection or blockage (Shahap, 2013). Lymphedema is a chronic and progressive condition that has no cure. The patient must understand that prevention of complications depends on self-management. Therefore it is very important that when caring for a patient that has had a mastectomy or radiation for breast cancer the…show more content…
The physical complications of LE may include “cellulitis or lymphangitis, axillary vein thrombosis, severe functional impairment, cosmetic embracement, and lymphangiosarcoma” (Gautam, 2011, p 1262). These physical complications can be very serious and even lead to amputation. The nurse must also be aware of the psychosocial impact of lymphedema. A mastectomy may be easy to hide with the use of clothing and prosthetics. Whereas the loss of function of the arm is much more obvious. The patient may have trouble dealing with the long term daily treatments and care to manage LE. She may experience a decrease in range of motion and activity or discomfort. The patient may also have to use compression garments which may cause uneasiness. Management and prevention of lymphedema is necessary to prevent complications and possible loss of function. The goal of management is to reduce swelling and pain (if present), maintain skin integrity, and prevent complications. Management of lymphedema is an ongoing lifetime process. It has been a standard in the past to discourage any type of strenuous activity and patients were often told to protect them from overuse for fear it would exacerbate the lymphedema. This actually led to patients not using their arm which lead to weakness which then predisposed the patient to injury. Patients also gained weight because of inactivity which in of itself can lead to lymphedema (Gautam, 2011). Because there is no surgical intervention or medication

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