Beth Newman, Ph.D., Felicity Lose, Ph.D., Mary-Anne Kedda, Ph.D., Mathias Francois, Ph.D., Kaltin Ferguson, Monika Janda, Ph.D., Patsy Yates, Ph.D., Amanda B. Spurdle, Ph.D., and Sandra C. Hayes, Ph.D.
Approximately thirty percent of women who undergo breast cancer related treatment are at risk for lymphedema. Removal of any number of lymph nodes creates a failure in the lymphatic system to drain fluid and break down proteins from the body, resulting in accumulation of fluid in the affected limb.
Although lymphedema may present itself twelve to eighteen months post surgery, individuals are at risk for a lifetime.
Most of the research presented on lymphedema lists risk factors such as lymph node resection, radiation therapy, infection, and trauma to name a few.
In this article written by Newman et al 2012, there may be a genetic disposition as well. There are genes that underlie primary lymphedema and researchers seem to think the same genes may have an impact on breast cancer related lymphedema.
120 women were chosen for the study; 22 had lymphedema and 98 had no evidence of lymphedema. The women were tested for ten genes known to have some impact on the lymphatic system. The study found some evidence of the involvement of three genes in the development of breast cancer related lymphedema.
Please read the article in depth here, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3311400/
Although this research article is by no means a definitive answer to the problem of lymphedema, it is a start towards early detection and specialized treatment.
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