Lymphedema After Breast Cancer Treatment

  • Kayla M. Daniell
  • Tessa C. Gillespie
  • Cheryl L. Brunelle
  • Alphonse G. TaghianEmail author


Women who undergo treatment for breast cancer are at lifelong risk for developing breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL) in the breast, trunk, and upper extremity on the affected side. BCRL is characterized by an accumulation of protein-rich lymph fluid in the interstitial tissues resulting from impairments to the lymphatic system caused by surgery or radiation. BCRL may be accompanied by a variety of symptoms, including arm tightness, heaviness, fullness, impaired function, and pain. Accordingly, BCRL is one of the most feared complications of survivorship among women who have been treated for breast cancer. Advances in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment over the last few decades have allowed for increased attention on understanding and mitigating the side effects of treatment. Such research efforts have provided insight on the risk factors, impact on quality of life, and natural history of BCRL. Moreover, in recent years, there has been increasing emphasis on the importance of screening for BCRL following treatment for breast cancer.



The project was supported by Award Number R01CA139118 (AG Taghian) and Award Number P50CA08393 (AG Taghian) from the National Cancer Institute. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Cancer Institute or the National Institutes of Health. This program is supported by the Adele McKinnon Research Fund for Breast Cancer-Related Lymphedema.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kayla M. Daniell
    • 1
  • Tessa C. Gillespie
    • 1
  • Cheryl L. Brunelle
    • 2
  • Alphonse G. Taghian
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Radiation OncologyMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Physical and Occupational TherapyMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA

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