- Question from Piks: Can you please address the issue of lymphedema risk from acupuncture anywhere in the affected quadrant(s)? Thank you!
- Answers - Beth Baughman DuPree, M.D., F.A.C.S. The risk of lymphedema following an axillary node dissection is a risk that is present for life. Any stress on the lymphatic system could potentially initiate what I call a "cascade effect" where a previously asymptomatic arm could become affected by lymphatic channel blockage, otherwise known as lymphedema. In my patients who have had an axillary node dissection, I have them refrain from using acupuncture with needles as a modality of treatment. I prefer that they use vibrational acupuncture techniques on that affected arm. This is what I would call a "relative contraindication," not an absolute contraindication. I prefer to avoid any type of breakage in the skin surface in an arm that has had a level 1 and level 2 axillary lymph node dissection. In patients who have had only a sentinel node biopsy, I will discuss with them on a case-by-case basis whether I feel acupuncture with needles would be appropriate.
On Wednesday, March 21, 2007, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Complementary Medicine Techniques. Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D. and moderator Beth Baughman DuPree, M.D., F.A.C.S. answered your questions about different types of complementary techniques and how they can help during and after breast cancer treatment.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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