A new technique being developed in the US can reduce liquid swelling in the upper arms of patients undergoing breast cancer treatment by up to 39 per cent.
New results released by the University of Teas MD Anderson Cancer Centre show that patients with lymphoedema in their upper arms have already started to benefit from the innovative super-microsurgical technique.
Known as lympahicovenular bypass surgery, the procedure represents the first surgical means of treating the condition, which is a common occurrence following surgery or radiation therapy for breast cancer, with most patients currently relying on compression bandages or massage to ease swelling.
"Lymphoedema is like a massive traffic jam with no exit," explained David Chang, director of the Plastic Surgery Clinic at MD Anderson.
"This procedure does a lot to help relieve lymphoedema by giving the fluid a way out. While it does not totally eliminate the condition, there is very little downside for the patient and we may see significant improvement in its severity."
Around eight per cent of breast cancer patients develop swollen upper arms several years after surgery.