Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Breast Cancer

Blood pressure/masectomy

08/03/2007

Question:

I had double masectomy May 2007, and would like to know how long before my blood pressure can be taken with cuff? My oncologist is using a wrist cuff, which is supposed to be okay to use, but what if I need blood pressure checked my next visit to General Practioner? I read the answer in complications, but I don`t think it really answered my concerns...while in the hospital it was taken on my leg, but is that really accurate? Thank you for your time!

Answer:

Lymph nodes protect your arm against swelling and infection.  Patients who undergo mastectomies can still have blood pressures taken in their arms as long as the lymph nodes were not removed.  Were the nodes taken out on both sides?  If not, have the blood pressure taken on the side where the nodes were not removed.  If the nodes were removed on both sides, then have the pressure taken in your leg.  That is accurate and safe. 

Removing all of the lymph nodes (lymph node dissection) increases the risk of developing lymphedema or swelling of the arm as well as infection.  This risk lasts a lifetime.  So after the nodes are removed, you should never again have blood pressures taken on that side.  Also, avoid sharps such as iv's, blood draws, and immunizations like tetanus shots.  All of these things increase the risk of swelling and infection in your arm since it is no longer protected by the lymph nodes.

For more information:

Go to the Breast Cancer health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Jean T Stevenson, MD, FACS Jean T Stevenson, MD, FACS
Associate Professor of Surgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University