Next step in cancer care: Replacing lymph nodes

WASHINGTON (AP) – Some doctors are turning to microsurgery to try to ease the swelling of lymphedema, a debilitating condition that gets little attention and has no cure.

This painful swelling can be a lasting side effect of breast cancer treatment, when lymph nodes under the arm have to be removed to check for the disease’s spread. That leaves fluid nowhere to drain.

One possible solution: Doctors take lymph nodes from another part of the body and move them back to the arm. One expert says about a third of patients experience some relief.

Millions of Americans have some degree of lymphedema, which also can be hereditary or result from injury. Standard care includes compression garments and massage.

New guidelines stress early monitoring for breast cancer-related lymphedema, as early care can prevent worsening.

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