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Lymphoedema| is a swelling of the arm that sometimes happens after surgery or radiotherapy to the lymph nodes in the armpit.
It can develop months or years after treatment. It’s more likely if you’ve had all or a large number of lymph nodes removed.
The risk increases further when radiotherapy is also given to the armpit. If you’ve only had a sentinel lymph node biopsy the risk of getting lymphoedema is small.
There are things you can do to help reduce your chances of developing lymphoedema. Good skin care and protecting your arm and hand are important. Any break in the skin can increase your risk of getting an infection, which may trigger lymphoedema. Here are some tips:
Our section on lymphoedema| has more information and videos of others sharing their experiences.
Content last reviewed: 1 September 2012
Next planned review: 2014
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