You are reading Lymphosclerosis, those “cords” that appear after breast cancer surgery


Lymphosclerosis, those “cords” that appear after breast cancer surgery

January 1, 2018

One of the possible side effects of surgery for breast cancer treatment is the appearance of “cords” under the axillary skin. They affect the arm on the same side as the operated breast. These are thin formations of fibrous tissue called lymphosclerosis, which may cause patients to worry. However, thanks to some treatment sessions and different principals, it is very likely that these small knots will disappear within a few months. We talk about this topic with Dr. Angelica Della Valle, Senologist at Humanitas.


The causes

Lymphosclerosis, also known as “axillary web syndrome”, is a pathology that can occur after removal of the sentinel lymph node or after lymph node dissection of the axillary cord,” explains Dr. Della Valle.


The causes – he continues – are not yet well defined; it can derive from the trauma of the connective tissue that covers the lymphatic vessels, with the subsequent onset of an inflammatory process that leads to a stiffening of the tissues, up to fibrosis “.


Although these “cords” tend to form under the skin of the axillary network, it is not uncommon that they also appear along the front space of the elbow and, in the most severe cases, they may extend to the palm. The patient may experience pain, by lifting the arm above the shoulders or a feeling of “pulling skin”. Therefore, it will limit the range of movements in the course of daily activities.


What to do?

However, the patient can choose from several lymphosclerosis treatments: “Physio-kinesitherapeutic stretching and manual therapy treatments are recommended: massages and rub downs performed by a physiotherapist as well as active and passive loosening exercises”, the specialist adds. In most cases – he concludes – this problem is solved in two or three months spontaneously, but the rehabilitation treatment can facilitate a more rapid recovery”.

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