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Removal of lymph nodes

marcyg's picture
marcyg
Posts: 6
Joined: Jan 2001

The doctors are saying I need all my lymph nodes removed from under my right arm. Has anyone had this procedure? How will the surgery affect the use of my right arm?

gnail's picture
gnail
Posts: 35
Joined: Sep 2000

I do not know that I agree. Get a second opinion. They need to remove the sentinel lymph node. They should look at it first. Only if it is positive for melanoma should someone consider removing more. The procedure you described is the "old" way they did it. They would take them all. Now, they take only the sentinel node and tehn go in again ONLY if it was positive. Again, feel free to e-mail me. If you e-mail me...and want to talk...I will give you my phone number.

little_mermaid's picture
little_mermaid
Posts: 7
Joined: Apr 2001

Hi there,

My husband had all the lymph nodes removed from under his left arm at the end of January. He has been undergoing physio since then for a frozen shoulder. Sometimes during the op the surgeon has to move nerves and stuff like that to get all the lymph nodes out. Having said that he's doing well and has the use of his arm back.

He's now undergoing interferon treatment so if you want to chat about that feel free to email me.

pholl
Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2001

Hi there,

My husband was diagonosed with malinoma December, 2000. Since then he has had all lymph nodes under his right arm removed. He is undergoing interferon treatment at this time. He just completed the first four weeks of IV treatment. He will begin injections nest weeek. I was wondering how your husband handled the side effects. My husband has not been able to work or do any physical activity. He was getting 46 million units of interferon with by IV 5 days per week. He will now receive 23 millions of interferon 3 times per week for 11 months. Is your husband's treatment similar? We are hoping the side effects will not be nearly as bad with the injections.

heatherdb
Posts: 3
Joined: Nov 2000

I have just ended my interferon treatments in March. I had several hard days with the treatment. I'm off work for 30 days,if not more. He needs to keep eating as much as possible. He will lose some of his hair. He needs to remember that he will have good days and bad days. He just needs to try and do what he can. If he needs to take a break, then he should rest. The side effects will subside. Make sure he drinks at least 60 to 80 ounces of fluid a day. That will help tremendously. As for the surgery of the arm, I had all my lymph nodes taken out of my left arm in Feb. 2000. I just now have regain full use of my arm. It just takes time and patience. Keep in mind that this is a very serious cancer. His body will tell him how to take care of it. If there is anything else I can tell or do for you, please feel free to contact me at my regular email, Pink@journey.com

heatherdb
Posts: 3
Joined: Nov 2000

I have just ended my interferon treatments in March. I had several hard days with the treatment. I'm off work for 30 days,if not more. He needs to keep eating as much as possible. He will lose some of his hair. He needs to remember that he will have good days and bad days. He just needs to try and do what he can. If he needs to take a break, then he should rest. The side effects will subside. Make sure he drinks at least 60 to 80 ounces of fluid a day. That will help tremendously. As for the surgery of the arm, I had all my lymph nodes taken out of my left arm in Feb. 2000. I just now have regain full use of my arm. It just takes time and patience. Keep in mind that this is a very serious cancer. His body will tell him how to take care of it. If there is anything else I can tell or do for you, please feel free to contact me at my regular email, Pink@journey.com

Sher82051
Posts: 5
Joined: Nov 2003

I finished my year of interferon in January of 2003. My oncologist told me the side effects usually get less as time goes on, my mine didn't. I had more days on the couch than off, but did have good days inbetween. People are different and it affects people differently. My oncologist, surgeon and dermatologist all told me it's as rough as any chemo out there, and it truly is. you can email me at sher82051@go.com if you'd like to talk....Sherrie

dggg
Posts: 2
Joined: May 2001

Since I have entered this discussion late, I am sure you have received many answers from others, but I will pass my experience on to you also. I had the same lymph node removal under my right arm. All were negative. The reason for removing them was a PCR test showed I still had some malignant cells somewhere, so my doctor thought it best to remove the most likely places the cells would travel. I have been cancer free for two years.

little_mermaid's picture
little_mermaid
Posts: 7
Joined: Apr 2001

Hi there, my husband has had all the lymph nodes taken from under his left arm. He couldn't feel the area underneath his arm for a while until those nerves repaired themselves. He had to have physical therapy after the surgery too to get his arm back in working order. It still gives him twinges (a year and a half after surgery) every now and again, his surgeon said that it can take several years for all the nerve endings to repair. The surgeon did tell us that this is a delecate operation because the main nerve to the arm has to be moved over in order for the surgeon to get in and remove the lymph nodes. If you have any other questions feel free to email me at lisa_cassidy@lycos.com

Dobermom
Posts: 40
Joined: Aug 2009

First off - a disclaimer. I am not in the medical profession. This is just my experience and my opinions based on my research and personal experience, for what they are worth.

I had all the lymph nodes removed from under my right arm as well. I am right-handed, so a good recovery to full strength and full range of motion was a major concern for me.

First off - as my oncologist told me, the skill of your surgeon will make a HUGE difference. This is a tight space to operate in with several major nerve junctures they need to avoid. You don't want a surgeon who only occasionally performs this surgery, you want one who does them often, and does them well. In fact, you should look for a surgeon who specializes in breast surgeries, if you can find one.

Next, post-surgery, as soon as your surgeon clears you, start using that arm! Yes, it may be a little uncomfortable, but compared to the discomfort you'll feel if you let it atrophy, this is doable. (To be honest, I was using my arm the day after surgery because I didn't trust my husband to strip my drain after the 1st time he did it, but that's just me. I do NOT recommend this to anyone else.) Initially, just gentle stretches and reaching for little things like the remote control, or a pen on the table, etc. - Just so your muscles don't tighten up. Avoid heavy lifting, of course. I found gentle stretching to be the most effective thing I did post-surgery. For me - any movement that caused something to pull was a signal to me to stretch it. Use it or lose it! If raising my arm overhead pulled, I turned it into a stretch because obviously, there was something there that needed to be stretched. The key is GENTLE, GENTLE, GENTLE! And don't over do it. You don't want to hurt yourself, but you don't want to baby yourself - it's a balancing act. (Be especially careful if you're taking pain meds, because it makes it easier to overdo.)

The other thing I did? Because I know lymphadema is a possibility someday, I asked my surgeon for a referral to a physical therapist who specialized in lymphadema. This was a combination of post-surgery recovery PT and a teaching visit ("How to recognize lymphadema/what to do if I notice it?"). I finally got in to see the only lymphadema-certified PT in Montgomery 3 weeks post surgery. Because I had been stretching on my own, she was VERY pleased with the progress I had made by myself. So pleased in fact that after the initial visit, I didn't have to go back to see again. I already had 95% full range of motion back. She gave me 2 sets of exercises to do to improve the "missing" range of motion, educated me more fully on lymphadema and what to watch for, and said to call her directly if I needed anything.

My surgery was 1 September 2009. It is now early December, and except for some lingering nerve pain and the expected numb areas, I have full range of motion back. Again, however, that's just me. Everyone's surgical and recovery experience is going to be different. I have always been somewhat limber, and I used to stretch daily. It made it easier for me to both stretch and make myself stretch through the discomfort.

As for regaining full strength? Well, I don't know about that yet. I think I have most of it back. However, I'm undergoing interferon treatments right now, and I've noticed my strength and stamina is down in general. So, I'll accept it as is for now, and once treatments are over, I'll see where I stand.

Sorry for the long answer - I hope this info helps. Good luck with your surgery, and your treatments. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I'll help any way I can.

Chris

thomasman
Posts: 20
Joined: May 2011

i can only share my experience with myself, as every persons reaction can be different. 6 years ago axillary surgery was performed on leftarm on me. i had 2 drains in for 7 weeks. after they were removed i started personal physical therapy, at the rate i was told to do it. i have full use of my arm, but have to be careful not to overuse it, and i'm left handed. i have been very fortunate to have one battle with lymphedema. my arm didnt swell up terribly, but, man, it hurt and took a while to get it back down.
as for your case, i highly suggest writing down and discussing your questions with your surgeon.

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