Saturday, July 27, 2013

Can we undo my surgery please?

When I had my breast cancer surgery the sentinel node was tested and came back with microscopic traces of cancer. It was then deemed necessary to have an Axillary Node Dissection where they take out a lot of lymph nodes in your arm pit to see the possibilities that the cancer has spread further in your body. Mine came back negative. But the damage was done.

When that many lymph nodes (20 in my case) are taken, the lymph system in your arm in permanently compromised and the risk of lymphedema is greatly increased. That would be my problem.

Now there is a new study (because the researchers needed to keep working), that says that if the sentinel node is positive, the better outcome for a patient is to have axillary node radiation instead of an axillary node dissection. There appears to be the same or lower risk of recurrence and the risk of lymphedema is substantially reduced.

This is clearly in the category of now they tell me. Damn. I have lymphedema which complicates my life - and has no cure.

I guess this is what research is all about - figuring out how to improve treatment so that they can prevent complications and reduce risks from previous treatment standards.

2 comments:

tccomments2013 said...

dear caroline,
I can't even imagine how difficult lymphedema is for you, and am so sorry for all you have endured with it. I have often wondered if there is any ongoing research for this terrible problem - like a lymph node transplant, or somehow cloning lymph nodes from stem cells. of course, the best would be not ever having to have them excised in the first place, which would mean having a much more sophisticated (less butchering) method of determining whether they contain cancer cells -it's the 21st century for god's sake! i'm glad you wrote this post - maybe someone out there will listen, come up with a better idea, and lymphedema will be a thing of the past.

Lorie said...

Hi Caroline, I also can't imagine how difficult it must be for you. I can't believe that with all the new technology nowadays, you had to undergo an evasive option which only did irreparable damage to you. Although I'm glad the results turned out negative, I hope the lymphedema will not cause you too much discomfort. I certainly also hope that lymphedema will be a thing in the past and more research and fast advancement in the method of this procedure will be available soon.