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Lymphedema Evaluation and Diagnosis

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It's best to have regular appointments with an experienced lymphedema therapist as you recover from breast cancer treatment — ideally, every few months. (See Finding a Lymphedema Therapist for guidance on finding an experienced lymphedema professional.)

However, you may find it’s not possible to have regular appointments, for a variety of reasons — for example, cost, limited insurance coverage, lack of easy access to a lymphedema therapist. And if you only had a couple of lymph nodes removed and have no other risk factors for lymphedema, you may simply decide you don’t want to take time for regular therapist visits. At the very least, have a baseline appointment with a lymphedema therapist so that he or she can get to know your situation.

Even if you haven’t had a baseline appointment, you always should seek out a lymphedema therapist right away if you develop any symptoms — no matter how mild or short-lasting. Lymphedema can appear many years after finishing treatment and affect you even if you’re low risk.

In this section, you can learn more about what to expect during a lymphedema evaluation, what tests you may have, and how lymphedema is diagnosed.

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