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Black and Hispanic Women Have Triple Odds for Lymphedema After Breast Cancer Surgery

Black and Hispanic women experience more than three times the risk compared to White women of developing swelling in the arms and legs called lymphedema after breast cancer treatment, according to new research.

The study followed 276 women with breast cancer who received a unilateral axillary lymph node dissection, which removes lymph nodes located above, below or directly underneath a muscle that runs along the side of the upper chest, and then radiation therapy.

After a 24 months, Black women in the study had a 3.5 times greater risk than White women of experiencing at least a 10 percent increase in the volume of their arm.

“Lymphedema worsens quality of life for breast cancer patients,” said researcher Andrea Barrio, MD, of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

The results were presented at the December 2021 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

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