How to reduce lymph node swelling

Enlarged and painful lymph nodes can be associated with some underlying health conditions, including viral and bacterial infections. Find out more about lymph nodes, their functions, and why they become enlarged and painful, through this HealthHearty article.

How to reduce lymph node swelling

Enlarged and painful lymph nodes can be associated with some underlying health conditions, including viral and bacterial infections. Find out more about lymph nodes, their functions, and why they become enlarged and painful, through this HealthHearty article.

The lymphatic system is composed of lymph nodes and ducts, which are distributed throughout the body. Lymph nodes are an important component of the immune system, as some white blood cells are stored in them in order to fight viruses, bacteria, and other infectious microorganisms. Their main function is to filter fluid, store white blood cells, and eliminate bacteria and viruses from the body.

Though lymph nodes are distributed throughout the body, they can be more easily felt in certain areas, like the neck, groin, and the armpit. Sometimes, lymph nodes present behind the ears, and under the jaw and the chin can also be felt with the fingers. They can enlarge and become painful in certain conditions, which are discussed below.

Pain in Lymph Nodes

Causes

Viral and bacterial infections are the most common causes of swollen and painful lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are responsible for storing white blood cells that fight harmful microorganisms, like bacteria and viruses. Whenever an infectious agent attacks the body, the immune system produces more white blood cells to destroy it, which can cause the lymph nodes to enlarge and become painful.

Other than infections, an injury can also cause swelling of the lymph nodes of that particular area. Conditions like, common cold, flu, a sore throat, ear infections, formation of an abscess under the skin, and mononucleosis can cause painful cervical lymph nodes. Cervical lymph nodes are located in the neck. Tonsillitis is another condition that can cause the lymph nodes of the neck and the jaw to enlarge and become painful.

Painful lymph nodes in the chest are however, quite rare. Cancer usually does not cause this condition. Cancers like leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can cause swollen, but painless lymph nodes. Apart from cancer or lymphoma, some other causes of enlarged lymph nodes are, autoimmune conditions, lupus, syphilis, and AIDS. On other hand, painful lumps in the breast or chest are usually caused by factors other than swollen lymph nodes.

Symptoms

This condition is usually accompanied by swelling. Swollen lymph nodes can be soft or hard to touch. The pain is usually mild and well tolerable. Depending on the underlying causes, this condition can also be accompanied by fever, tiredness, and weight loss. Sometimes, the color of the skin above the lymph node may undergo some changes. For example, there can be pink or red discoloration of the skin above the lymph nodes at times.

Treatment

As painful and swollen lymph nodes can be associated with several health conditions, they can be treated only after ascertaining the underlying causes. The pain and the swelling can sometimes resolve on their own without any medical intervention. If the pain becomes unbearable or it is accompanied by fever, you can take acetaminophen.

However, it is advisable to consult your physician before taking any kind of medications. The pain caused by enlarged lymph nodes can also be relieved with the application of heat. You can use an electric heating pad or a warm, wet towel for this purpose. If swollen lymph nodes are caused by a sore throat, then you can use warm saline water for gargling.

If the lymph nodes are tender to touch, and they are more than 1 inch in size, then talk to your physician, as these could be the sign of a serious infection. Another sign of a serious infection is pink or red discoloration of the skin above the lymph nodes. If you observe such signs, consult your physician immediately, in order to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.

Swollen lymph nodes is not a disease in itself, but it indicates that there is some underlying disorder. Therefore, to get rid of it, you have to actually eliminate the underlying cause. Go through the HealthHearty article and you will come to know how to get rid of swollen lymph nodes.

Swollen lymph nodes is not a disease in itself, but it indicates that there is some underlying disorder. Therefore, to get rid of it, you have to actually eliminate the underlying cause. Go through the HealthHearty article and you will come to know how to get rid of swollen lymph nodes.

A lymph node has a small, bean-shaped structure made of clustered cells―lymphocyte and macrophage. It is the combined effort of these two cells that protects you from various unwanted intruders, which can otherwise cause harm to the body. Lymph nodes are found in groups and are located in various parts of the body. The areas where swollen lymph nodes are mostly detected include neck, armpit, groin, and under the chin.

Causes

One of the primary causes is infection that can be triggered by a viral, fungal, or bacterial attack. The location of the swollen nodes can give you an indication about the cause that has triggered the infection. For instance, swollen lymph glands in neck is most commonly triggered by common cold, infection of the respiratory tract, measles, mumps, abscessed tooth, etc. Ingrown toenail or any form of infection affecting the foot, groin, or genitals cause enlarged lymph nodes in groin. A secondary infection on any wound or injury in the arms and hands lead to swollen lymph nodes in the armpit. Those who are suffering from autoimmune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis may get them in various locations of the body. It could be a symptom of certain forms of cancer like lymphoma or leukemia. In such cases, they are hard to touch and immobile.

Treatment

When you visit a doctor, he/she will try to identify the underlying cause first and then start the course of treatment. A bacterial infection in the respiratory tract or inner ear or tooth is treated with the help of suitable antibiotics. Anti-inflammatory medicines are also given to reduce the swelling. A viral infection like common cold cannot be treated with antibiotics. In such cases, doctors reduce the symptoms like fever and pain with the help of paracetamol. Cough medicines are given for relieving the cough. Serious infections like tuberculosis require strong dose of medicines. Immunosuppressants are used for the treatment of various immune system disorders. The duration of the treatment and medication dosage are decided by the doctor, and one has to follow the same to ensure that the problem is eliminated completely. If they appear like a hard lump (cancerous), then the doctor may conduct a biopsy. In case the report is positive, then the patient has to undergo a cancer treatment which includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.

Home Remedies

These have to be treated under the supervision of a doctor only. Along with the medicinal treatment, you can try out some home treatments to get relief from the discomfort associated with the swelling.

Warm/Cold Compression

When there is tenderness in the swollen nodes, then it can be relieved with warm/cold compression treatment. For this, you need one bowl of warm water and a bowl of ice-cold water. Firstly, dip a washcloth into the warm water and then place the damp cloth over them for 10 minutes. Then, dampen another washcloth with cold water and put it on the affected nodes for the next 10 minutes. You can repeat this after a gap of every one hour.

Massage

Massaging the inflamed nodes can bring down the swelling to some extent. Basically, the nodes swell up when impurities from the lymphatic fluid are trapped and cause blockage in them. When you massage the area with a gentle hand, the blockage is released and they start functioning normally. As a result, the inflammation subsides.

Honey

Honey has this amazing natural quality of reducing inflammation in any part of the body. Therefore, it can be used for curing swollen nodes as well. You can put a teaspoon of honey in a cup of warm water and have it. Or else, you can drink a cup of hot tea in which a teaspoon of honey is added.

It may happen that the lymph nodes remain swollen even after the infection has gone. You need not worry about this as it is absolutely normal and it will get back to its original size on its own after some time. During this time, some people, particularly children, often feel the urge to press or squeeze the. This should be avoided as it could be harmful. Make sure to try the above described home remedies for some much-needed relief, and in worst cases, see a doctor at the earliest.

Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.

This information describes how to prevent infection and reduce swelling in your hand and arm after your axillary lymph node dissection surgery. Following these guidelines may help prevent lymphedema.

About Your Lymphatic System

How to reduce lymph node swelling

Figure 1. Normal lymph drainage

Your lymphatic system has 2 jobs:

  • It helps fight infection.
  • It helps drain fluid from areas of your body.

Your lymphatic system is made up of lymph nodes, lymphatic vessels, and lymphatic fluid (see Figure 1).

  • Lymph nodes are small bean-shaped glands located along your lymphatic vessels. Your lymph nodes filter your lymphatic fluid, taking out bacteria, viruses, cancer cells, and other waste products.
  • Lymphatic vessels are tiny tubes, like your blood vessels, that carry fluid to and from your lymph nodes.
  • Lymphatic fluid is the clear fluid that travels through your lymphatic system. It carries cells that help fight infections and other diseases.

Axillary lymph nodes are a group of lymph nodes in your armpit (axilla) that drain the lymph fluid from your breast and arm. Everyone has a different number of axillary lymph nodes. An axillary lymph node dissection is a surgery to remove a group of axillary lymph nodes.

About Lymphedema

Sometimes, removing lymph nodes can make it hard for your lymphatic system to drain properly. If this happens, lymphatic fluid can build up in the area where the lymph nodes were removed. This extra fluid causes swelling called lymphedema.

Lymphedema can develop in the arm, hand, breast, or torso on your affected side (the side where your lymph nodes were removed).

Signs of lymphedema

Lymphedema can develop suddenly or gradually. It can happen months or years after your surgery.

Watch for these signs of lymphedema in your affected arm, hand, breast, and torso:

  • A feeling of heaviness, aching, or pain
  • A tight feeling in your skin
  • Less flexibility
  • Swelling
  • Skin changes, such as tightness or pitting (skin that stays indented after pressing on it)

If you have swelling, you may notice that:

  • The veins in your affected hand are less noticeable than on your other hand.
  • The rings on your affected finger(s) are tighter or don’t fit.
  • The shirt sleeve on your affected side feels tighter than usual.

If you have any signs of lymphedema or aren’t sure, contact your healthcare provider.

Lowering Your Risk of Developing Lymphedema

It’s important to prevent infection and swelling to lower your risk of developing lymphedema.

Preventing infection

You’re more likely to get lymphedema if you get an infection in your affected arm. This is because your body will make extra white blood cells and lymphatic fluid to fight the infection, and this extra fluid may not drain properly.

Follow these guidelines to lower your risk of getting an infection.

  • Be careful not to get sunburned. Use a sunblock with an SPF of at least 30. Reapply it often.
  • Use insect repellent to avoid stings and bug bites.
  • Use a lotion or cream daily to help protect the skin on your affected arm and hand.
  • Don’t cut your cuticles on your affected hand. Instead, push them back gently with a cuticle stick.
  • Wear protective gloves when doing yard work or gardening, washing dishes, or cleaning with harsh detergent or steel wool.
  • Wear a thimble when you’re sewing.
  • Be careful if you shave under your affected arm. Think about using an electric razor. If you get a cut while shaving, take care of it following the instructions below.

If you notice any signs of infection (such as redness, swelling, skin that’s warmer than usual, or tenderness), call your healthcare provider.

Caring for cuts and scratches

  1. Clean the area with soap and water.
  2. Apply antibiotic ointment, such as Bacitracin ® or Neosporin ® .
  3. Cover the area with a bandage, such as a Band-Aid ® .

Caring for burns

  1. Apply a cold pack to the area or run the area under cool tap water for about 10 minutes.
  2. Clean the area with soap and water.
  3. Cover the area with a bandage, such as a Band-Aid.
  4. Preventing swelling

Right after your surgery

Some mild swelling after surgery is normal. This swelling may last for up to 6 weeks. It’s often temporary and will gradually go away. You may also feel pain or other sensations such as twinges and tingling after your surgery. Follow these guidelines to help relieve the swelling after your surgery.

  • Do your exercises 5 times per day. If your healthcare provider told you to do them more or less often, follow their instructions.
  • Keep doing your exercises until you get back your normal range of shoulder and arm movement. This can take 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.
    • If you feel a stretch in your chest or under your arm, it may be helpful to keep doing the stretching exercises for even longer.
    • If you don’t get your normal range of motion back after 4 to 6 weeks, call your healthcare provider.

    Over the long term

    Doing the following things may help lower your risk of developing lymphedema.

    The swelling of Supraclavicular lymph node implies the presence of pathogens in the body. Read on to know more about the factors that can cause swelling in it.

    The swelling of Supraclavicular lymph node implies the presence of pathogens in the body. Read on to know more about the factors that can cause swelling in it.

    How to reduce lymph node swelling

    Before we learn about this condition, it is necessary to know about the role of supraclavicular gland and body system they are part of. These nodes are a part of the body’s defensive mechanism against the microorganisms that keeps on attacking. To be precise, these nodes are part of the lymphatic system. This is a vast network of lymph ducts, 500 – 600 lymph nodes, afferent and efferent lymph vessels. In addition to these, some organs such as spleen, tonsils, thymus glands, etc., are also part of this system.

    Importance of Lymph Nodes

    During the transportation of blood through the arteries and veins, blood plasma passes through the walls of the blood vessels and gets collected in the spaces between body tissues. Along with it comes the infectious disease causing bacteria, virus and yeast. Out here, they are safe from the white blood cells in the blood and can cause the body a great harm. The lymphatic system, thorough its lymph capillaries and ducts collects blood plasma (which is now referred to as lymph) and microorganisms and transports it to the lymph nodes which finally drain it into the blood circulatory system. The other function is to protect the body against infections. These nodes along with the rest of lymph nodes, employs lymphocytes (white blood cells) to kill microorganisms in the lymph and sanitize it before its onward passage through the system.

    These nodes which lies in the hallow above the right and left clavicle (collarbone) is one such group of 2 lymph nodes. One of the diseases that can cause these nodes to swell is lymphedema i.e. collection of fluid in the lymph nodes. In most of the cases, it is due to the lymphocyte activity against the pathogens. Let us see how this happens. The node on the right side takes the lymph from the mediastinum, lungs, esophagus, etc., cures it of the pathogens and sends it on its onward journey. On the other hand, left node which is also known as Virchow’s node receives lymph through thoracic duct and from most of the body (mainly abdomen). In short, these nodes collect, cure and forward the lymph from the thoracic cavity and abdomen.

    Causes

    Immune Response

    Detection of pathogens or the abnormal cells in the lymph activates lymphocytes. B cells, a type of lymphocytes, mark these pathogens and abnormal cells for destruction using a marker protein. T cells, a type of lymphocytes, looks for these proteins marked cells and tries to eliminate them. The actual work is performed by the natural killer cells and helper cells, both of which are types of T cells. The immune system, on detecting these proteins sends more lymphocytes to these nodes which causes swelling of this lymph node.

    In Children

    Children depends more, for immunity, on the lymphocytes than on the white blood cells that are present in the blood. For this reason a child with low lymphocyte level is prone to infections of all sorts. As has been mentioned above, lymphocyte activity against the microorganisms may cause swelling of the lymph nodes. That is why swelling of the lymph nodes in children is a common occurrence. However, it must be noted that there is a remote chance of enlargement observed in children is due to lymphoma. A child that has fallen victim to these condition exhibits symptoms such as constant weight loss, infections, etc. which should prompt alert parents to take necessary action.

    Lymphoma

    Lymphoma is one of the 4 type of cancers which is caused by the malignant neoplasm of the lymph cells. Lymphoma can also be the cause of swelling of this lymph node. In this condition, usually, T cells and B cells starts multiplying uncontrollably. With the lymph, these cells travels to the distant parts of the lymphatic system. The swelling can be due to these malignant cells getting stuck in it. Multiplication of these abnormal cell at this site may cause the tumor in the lymph nodes, their enlargement and symptoms to appear in the victim. Lymphoma is further classified into Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

    Cancer

    Cancers of different organs located in the chest area such as mediastinal, tracheal, esophageal, lung as well as of chest wall can cause enlargement of lymph nodes. Peritoneum is a membrane that covers or engulf abdominal organs and helps them in maintaining their place. A cancer that lies behind or on the other side of peritoneum is termed as retroperitoneal cancer. It can along with thymomas, mesothelioma, cause the enlargement of this node.

    HIV/AIDS

    In case of HIV/AIDS, the immune system is affected. The virus attacks and destroys CD4+ lymphocytes which are a type of helper cells and CD8+ lymphocytes which are cytotoxic T cells. The low white blood cell count increases the chances of infections which, in turn, increases the risk of swelling of nodes.

    Lymphadenopathy

    In patients suffering from supraclavicular lymphadenopathy, the chances of this condition turning to malignancy are very high. 90% of these patients above the age of 40, and 25% below it may have to face this problem.

    Whatever the cause of swelling, it is a clear indication of that pathogens are very active against the body. In case of adults, the same condition may signify much more than just an infection and it must be looked into.

    Lymph node swelling is a common symptom in infections and every person experiences it at least once in the lifetime. It is so common that people avoid the physician and take self-treatment to reduce swelling or get relief from pain. Further, supplements are used to improve the immune system.

    How to reduce lymph node swelling

    How Do I Treat Swollen Lymph Nodes By Myself?

    1. Salt Water: The salt water gargle is an effective therapy to reduce the swelling in the lymph nodes. Further, some kinds of salts such as Epsom salt have high anti-inflammatory property.
    2. Combating Infections: Infections are the common cause of swollen lymph nodes. Thus, various supplements which are effective against infection should be included in the diet. Garlic is used to fight against infection because it has the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial property. Certain antioxidants such as apple cider vinegar are also included in diet due to their immunomodulating property. Honey is used in reducing the pain and swelling of lymph nodes due to its healing properties. Turmeric, from a very long time, is highly potent anti-inflammatory substance and also functions as an antibacterial.
    3. Warm Compress: The lymph nodes are swollen due to the aggregation of bacteria along with the phagocytes. When warm compress is applied on the affected lymph node, the circulation is increased, which leads to the removal of the waste from the lymph node and relieve swelling.
    4. Massage: The massage will help improve the circulation which removes the impurities from the lymph nodes and the size of the lymph nodes gets reduced.
    5. Adequate Rest: When the patient experiences a swollen lymph node, it means that the body is fighting against infection and this process requires a lot of energy. Thus, in order to preserve the energy, proper rest should be taken in case of infection.
    6. Analgesics: When there is a pain and inflammation in the swollen lymph nodes, over-the-counter analgesic can be taken to get relief from the symptoms.
    7. Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamins are used to help the body to perform its function more effectively. Thus, taking vitamin and mineral supplement will make the body more powerful against infection.

    Sites For Swollen Lymph Nodes

    Lymph nodes are found all over the body and any lymph nodes may swell up depending upon the type of infection and the vicinity of the lymph nodes to these infections. The most common areas for swelling of the lymph nodes may include armpits, groin, neck and under the chin. The site of lymph node swelling may give an indication about the type of infection. The armpit lymph node swelling may be due to any infection or injury in hands or arms. The most common reason for lymph node swelling is flu or sore throat which swells the lymph node of neck or under the jaw line. The swelling of the lymph node in supraclavicular region may be of serious nature as it may be caused due to malignant tumor. The lymph nodes swelling in the groin region may indicate the infection in the genitals.

    Conclusion

    Swollen lymph nodes can effectively be managed, as far as the symptoms and pain of nodes is concerned, with the help of various household techniques. The approach is also directed to the use of immune system enhancer such as garlic, turmeric, and honey and apple cider vinegar. Various exercises, massage techniques and yoga also proved beneficial in swollen lymph nodes. Further, stress should be reduced so as to improve the immune system of the body.

    Welcome to our Decision Guide on Swollen Glands in the Neck.

    The term “swollen glands” usually refers to enlarged lymph nodes. In fact, lymph nodes are not actually glands. They are small bundles of white blood cells that are present in multiple areas throughout our body.

    One of the ways the body’s immune system responds to infections and inflammation is to greatly increase the number of white cells in the lymph nodes causing them to swell. Most often swollen lymph nodes are caused by an infection or some other benign condition. Less commonly, lymph nodes enlarge related to cancer.

    The parts of the body where people and their doctors can see or feel swollen lymph nodes include the neck, armpit, and groin areas.

    This guide will focus only on “swollen glands” in the neck. By answering a short series of questions, you will learn about the most common reasons for your swollen glands in the neck.

    This guide is not intended to replace the evaluation and advice of a health care professional.

    Are the “swollen glands” confined to your neck?

    The approach to gland swelling in areas outside of the neck or in multiple areas of the body is different from the approach to swollen glands confined to the neck.

    If you feel swollen lymph nodes in other areas of your body, please visit our Health Decision Guide called Swollen Glands (General).

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    Ice packs and cold compresses help to reduce local inflammation and are a great option for isolated lymphatic issues. Apply a cold compress, or ice pack wrapped in a towel for 15 to 20 minutes at a time a few times per day to help reduce swelling. Similarly, elevating the affected area can also help drain the excess fluid.

    Table of Contents

    How to reduce swelling in the lymph nodes?

    Place a cold wash cloth on the node for 10-15 minute intervals. Repeat this 3 times daily until you see the swelling reducing. Get a lymphatic massage. Applying gentle pressure and rubbing your lymph nodes can help to reduce swelling by increasing blood flow to the area.

    What to take for swollen lymph nodes in neck?

    Apple cider vinegar: You may also be able to treat swollen lymph nodes in neck with apple cider vinegar. It’s used to treat infections due to its antibacterial properties. To potentially treat swollen lymph nodes, combine apple cider vinegar with filtered water, soak a cloth with the mixture,…

    How do doctors treat swollen lymph nodes?

    Your doctor may have you undergo a biopsy to secure the diagnosis. He or she will remove a sample from a lymph node or even an entire lymph node for microscopic examination. Swollen lymph nodes caused by a virus usually return to normal after the viral infection resolves. Antibiotics are not useful to treat viral infections.

    Can a swollen lymph node be painful?

    As the lymph nodes begin to work harder to remove waste, they can enlarge. This enlargement is more common in certain areas of the body, including the neck, armpit, and groin. A swollen lymph node may be visibly enlarged, painful, and tender to the touch. Many viruses can cause swollen lymph nodes.

    How do I treat swollen lymph nodes by myself?

    If your swollen lymph nodes are tender or painful, you might get some relief by doing the following: Apply a warm compress. Apply a warm, wet compress, such as a washcloth dipped in hot water and wrung out, to the affected area. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others). Get adequate rest.

    How long does it take to heal a swollen lymph node?

    Lymph nodes can be found around the neck and under the arm. If the condition persists beyond 2 weeks and the pain hasn’t gone away on its own, you should seek medical advice. For the majority of people, the swelling and tenderness will go away in a couple of week’s time.

    What antibiotics are used to treat swollen lymph nodes?

    You must go to the otolaryngologist to evaluate the symptoms produced by the infection and indicate the treatment that usually consists of the use of antibiotics such as amoxicillin-clavulanic acid. Generally, the lymph nodes disappear when the infection is treated.

    Can You Make Your lymph nodes swell from touching?

    No touching the nodes will not make them swell. Most lymph node enlargement in a two year old is due to upper respiratory infections caused by viruses.

    Lymph node swelling is a common side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Lymphedema Research Program team aims to educate patients and healthcare providers and study patient experiences with the vaccine.

    How to reduce lymph node swelling

    How to reduce lymph node swelling

    Two years ago, the leaders of the Breast Cancer-Related Lymphedema Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital would not have predicted that their work would be related to the side effects of a vaccine for a worldwide pandemic.

    From the testing data for the vaccine, we noted that lymph node swelling was a fairly common side effect of both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

    It wasn’t just fate. Alphonse Taghian, MD, PhD, director, and Cheryl Brunelle, PT, MS, CCS, CLT, associate director of the program, talk about lymphedema, their research and what patients should know about the lymph node swelling and the COVID-19 vaccine.

    Ms. Brunelle: Lymphedema is characterized by swelling that can happen after lymph node removal or radiation to the lymph nodes during breast cancer treatment. From the testing data for the vaccine, we noted that lymph node swelling was a fairly common side effect of both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

    For patients who’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, this could be terrifying — thinking they might be having a recurrence. It could also be scary for patients at risk for breast cancer who don’t know that swelling is a common side effect, or for those at risk of or with lymphedema. It’s very important to educate women and help them understand how to decrease their risk and reach out for medical help when they need it.

    How to reduce lymph node swellingCheryl Brunelle, PT, MS, CCS, CLT

    What should patients know about getting the vaccine?

    If they have no contraindications [any reason to not have a particular treatment or procedure because it may be harmful] to receiving the vaccine, Mass General would like to encourage patients to receive the vaccine. The main recommendation that we have is that the patient receives the vaccine on the unaffected side. Many women who have had breast cancer have unilateral surgery, so they have an arm that is unaffected, and we’d like them receive the vaccine there. If they’ve had lymph node removal on both sides, our suggestion is that they receive the vaccine in the thigh, and Moderna and Pfizer both list the thigh as an acceptable alternative site.

    Visit this website for Mass General’s recommendations, available in several languages, about receiving the vaccine after lymph node removal for cancer treatment.

    How are you collecting data about lymphedema and the COVID-19 vaccine?

    All women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and have had contact with our screening program will receive a survey. They are asked to record their side effects from the vaccine and whether their risk of lymphedema or their breast cancer history affected their choice to receive the vaccine. We also monitor their side effects beyond their first and second doses. This will help us better understand how the vaccine is affecting our patients and how to educate patients in the future regarding the vaccine.

    Can you tell us more about lymphedema and how your program has evolved?

    Dr. Taghian: Lymphedema can appear as swelling in the breast, trunk, arm, or hand on the side of breast cancer treatment. Once lymphedema is established, treatment becomes challenging, and, in some cases, the patient will live with it all her life.

    How to reduce lymph node swellingAlphonse Taghian, MD, PhD

    Screening mammograms is one of the main reasons why breast cancer became more curable. We thought that early detection and early treatment could also prevent lymphedema from becoming more advanced. And that was the whole basis of our program.

    When we started in 2005, our goal was to raise awareness. Health care providers were not aware of the tremendous impact of lymphedema on the patient’s quality of life. To date, our program has screened more than 5,500 patients and has raised awareness about lymphedema nationally and internationally. Our Mass General screening program became one of the leading programs internationally, and several large institutions are following our model.

    We are grateful to those who believe in our cause and sustain us today, and we hope in the future to expand our program and help even more women.

    Ms. Brunelle: As soon as the news hit that lymph node swelling was a side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine, we started to get calls, and people reached out, not just from Boston, but from throughout the country. We initiated contact with national and international organizations and suggested that we should all come together. This is a worldwide pandemic. There is a worldwide need for vaccines. We should be sending the same message to patients at risk. And it the meantime, we continue to study this to help inform our patient care, because the vaccine isn’t going away.

    How does philanthropy play a role in your work?

    Dr. Taghian: Philanthropy started this program and helped generate preliminary data. Screening requires expensive equipment and tools and manpower — and philanthropy has made this possible. We are grateful to those who believe in our cause and sustain us today, and we hope in the future to expand our program and help even more women.

    Your donation will advance the work of the Lymphedema Research Program. For more information, please contact us.