I am wondering if anyone has had the same or similar experience?
My father had breast cancer about 14 years ago, he had surgery with both breast being removed and the limp nodes from his right arm. He then had many rounds of Chemo and Radiation and has been cancer free since.
However about 6 months ago his right arm became very hot to touch, painful and it swelled up to triple its size. Along with this he had a huge lump in the right side of his neck with headaches and feeling like he had the flu. He went to his GP who started antibiotics, however with no improvement and symptoms getting worse he ended up in hospital in extreme pain. They run fluids through with IV antibiotics and after a few days he was much better and was sent home with 15 pills to take each day of antibiotic. Each time he finished the course of these antibiotic the pain would return and the arm would start heating up again, the Professor at the hospital would give another script for more antibiotics. It became obvious this wasn’t working and within a few weeks he was back in hospital in extreme pain again. This time they did an ultrasound and said the arm was full of fluid which they believed was puss however when they tried to aspirate some of the puss out they got less than 1ml. They decided they needed to do surgery, so they opened the arm up and flush out what fluid / puss was in there (which was even less than what they imagined) and a few days later they sent him home with a direct line to his heart still in and a mechanical box which he wore around his waist which administered his antibiotics.
After all this, there is no improvement. This week he met with a Specialist from Sydney who requested a CT scan (in one of those tunnels) as he believes the lump in his neck can still be felt (however it ‘s not huge like it was before) and he believes that this lump is the cause of all problems / infection in his arm. We are waiting the results of the CT scan which dad will then be referred back to the cancer doctor who did his surgery 14 years ago.
It feels as though no one is able to help and no one knows what is going on or how to fix it. Has anyone had this experience and what was the outcome?
I'm wondering if they have ruled out lymphedema as being a cause of his arm swelling? This is where, when one or more lymph nodes are removed, the lymph system is no longer able to fully drain the arm of lymph fluid so the arm swells up. Sometimes it starts years after the operation to remove lymph nodes. If I remember correctly an infection is one possible trigger. It's quite a common condition or side effect after removal of lymph nodes during treatment for breast cancer. There's an excellent and easy to understand article on arm lymphedema on the Breastcancer.org website here www.breastcancer.org/lymphedema_info.html.
Thanks so much for your reply and for the link. This information has been really helpful and I now feel that the lump in my father’s neck is simply caused from his Lymphedema (he is having a biopsy this week which should confirm this). It appears Dad has been keeping us in the dark (probably not to worry us, however it only makes us worry more). The article has defiantly show that perhaps Dad's doctors are not completely aware of what they are dealing with and Dad most defiantly does not push enough or ask enough questions. Perhaps it’s time we talk him into letting us come along to his appointments with him.
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