It always amazes me when talking to cancer patients that they know so little about lymphedema. Even though it is addressed at the Cancer Clinic as a workshop to attend after your surgery, it seems to disappear down the list of issues to be aware of in terms of risk. Sad, because once you get lymphedema, there is no cure. You are then into lifetime management.
Lymphedema is a risk for any cancer surgery, in particular those where lymph nodes are involved. This means breast cancer, head & neck cancers, prostate, ovarian, uterine. When lymph nodes are disturbed or taken out, lymph fluid flow becomes obstructed at this point. When pressure is exerted on the limb in question (arm, leg or torso, even upper shoulder area), the fluid backs up causing swelling. I go into this in more detail here.
If you already have lymphedema, compression garments are prescribed and need to be worn during activity, at night, and depending on your situation, during the day as well. As a preventative measure, it’s advised to wear a prevention compression sleeve when flying. Mine is always in my bag, donned in the airport and taken off when I have picked up my bags.
Please do yourself a favor and get informed. It will make a huge difference to you. There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting lymphedema. You just need to know what they are.