The AP (12/30, Neergaard) reports, "Hospitals in about a dozen states are testing whether some simple steps...could reduce the risk of one of breast cancer's troubling legacies -- the painful and sometimes severe arm swelling called lymphedema." Researchers at Ohio State University are investigating "possible protective steps," such as "wearing elastic sleeves to counter temporary swelling during things like airplane flight or heavy lifting, and doing special exercises with light weights designed to help keep open the lymph channels that allow fluid to drain through the body."
The exercises may build "up muscles in" patients' arms to act "as a natural pneumatic pump to move the fluid," lead researcher Dr. Electra Paskett explained. Although "lymphedema among breast-cancer survivors may be most common," one study published in November's Journal of Clinical Oncology found that only eight percent of "1,200 patients who'd had breast cancer" had "been formally diagnosed with lymphedema." Meanwhile, "another 37 percent of the women suffered persistent lymphedema symptoms," the study showed.