Medical IDs for Breast Cancer & Lymphedema

How a medical ID can help

A breast cancer diagnosis can be devastating news. The good news is that many people with breast cancer make a full recovery and live fulfilling, healthy lives after treatment.   

However, some people treated for breast cancer can develop a complication called lymphedema. If your lymph nodes are compromised during a lymph node dissection, lumpectomy, mastectomy, or radiation treatment, it increases your risk of developing lymphedema – even if you have recovered from breast cancer. Here’s what you need to know about the risk of lymphedema after breast cancer treatment and how a medical ID can help you manage your health.  

What are breast cancer MedicAlert IDs? 

MedicAlert Foundation offers medical ID bracelets, necklaces and accessories for people who need their health information shared during an emergency. Many people find that a breast cancer or lymphedema medical alert bracelet gives them the security they need to live a full life. A medical ID is an easy way to let health professionals know your history and to avoid procedures on your affected arm. 

Medical ID bracelets are engraved with key health information. They can list chronic conditions like lymphedema that can help medical professionals provide appropriate treatment, and avoid procedures that could cause damage to your affected arm. And with a MedicAlert membership, you can have your digital health profile available to first responders during an emergency.  

How does a lymphedema MedicAlert bracelet work? 

Lymphedema bracelets from MedicAlert provide personal health information when it’s needed the most. You can choose what to have engraved on the bracelet so that responders know which conditions you have. With a MedicAlert membership, anyone can call our emergency support line and get access to even more essential health information.  

MedicAlert offers a range of stylish breast cancer and lymphedema bracelets to suit every personality and lifestyle. You can opt for the classic stainless-steel model, choose an active silicone band, or even get a necklace. Your safety and health are the top priorities, but you should choose an ID that you are happy to put on each and every day.  

Why should someone get a breast cancer MedicAlert bracelet? 

People who have gone through breast cancer treatment are usually advised not to have their blood pressure taken on the same side as their surgery to reduce the risk of lymph fluid accumulation. Therefore, it’s important to have information on the lymphedema alert bracelet to direct first responders to perform procedures on the other arm. 

There are other reasons to have get a breast cancer medical alert bracelet, though. You may have specific health concerns after your recovery or just want the added security of emergency support. Our 24/7 emergency protection anytime, anywhere, can help you feel safer in your daily life.  

After recovering from breast cancer, most people are more than ready to move on and enjoy their lives. Ongoing health risks don’t have to prevent you from living your life to the fullest. MedicAlert Foundation has been standing by for decades to provide lifesaving assistance to our members.  

The importance of a breast cancer medical ID bracelet

Wearing a medical ID at all times ensures your medical conditions are immediately known in an emergency.

When first responders see your MedicAlert ID, they know to contact MedicAlert to get your complete health record.

Get protected 24/7 with a Medicalert ID and membership.

About breast cancer and treatment 

Breast cancer develops when cells in the breast tissue mutate. These cells do not replace other cells to produce healthy tissue. They continue to divide and eventually create a tumor.  

Tumors can be benign or malignant. Benign tumors are not dangerous and will not spread to other tissues. They are normally slow-growing and generally do not cause any major problems.  

Malignant tumors, on the other hand, can spread from the breast to other areas of the body. Tumors are only cancerous when they are malignant. If left untreated for too long, breast cancer can be fatal as the cancer cells spread to different areas of the body and organ systems.  

Treatment for breast cancer may involve surgery to remove tumors (mastectomy or lumpectomy) and affected lymph nodes, along with chemotherapy or radiation. There are other forms of treatment, as well as supplementary therapies, but these are the proven standard of care for most people with breast cancer.  

What is lymphedema? 

Lymphedema describes swelling in the hand, arm, torso, or breast. It is caused by a buildup of lymph fluid, usually after one or more lymph nodes have been removed or damaged. 

Symptoms include tingling, numbness, a heavy feeling, achiness, puffiness and swelling, reduced flexibility, changes in the skin, and tightness. Left untreated, lymphedema can lead to permanent swelling, hardening of the tissues, and cellulitis. There is no test or cure for lymphedema, but treatment can help manage the condition.  

Why breast cancer surgery can increase lymphedema risk 

Many people who develop breast cancer are unaware that lymphedema risks increase after certain types of breast cancer treatment. Surgery alone does not increase lymphedema risk. However, if lymph nodes in the underarm area are removed or treated with radiation, your lymph system may not be able to drain fluid as effectively. There is a chance that lymph fluid will build up in the future and cause problems.  

People who develop lymphedema after breast cancer treatment don’t necessarily experience problems right away. There is an increased risk for the rest of your life after the surgery. However, proper skin care and regular exercise after surgery can help reduce the risk.  

For anyone who’s had lymph nodes removed, it’s very important to take care of the arm on your affected side. You should never have blood pressure taken, blood drawn, or injections given on the side where lymph nodes were removed. Always have procedures done on your other arm. 

Treatment for lymphedema  

If you do develop lymphedema after breast cancer surgery, there are some treatment options that can help to relieve the uncomfortable symptoms. Most therapies are non-invasive and involve lifestyle adjustments.  

Exercise helps to promote lymph drainage and is highly recommended for people who are at high risk for developing lymphedema. Diet also plays a role in prevention and treatment. Infection can also increase the risks, so reducing the chances of infection can reduce lymphedema risk after breast cancer.  

People who are experiencing lymphedema symptoms can sometimes benefit from compression and keeping the arm raised. Massage can also be a helpful treatment for lymphedema. 

The sooner treatment is started, the better. If left untreated, the condition can lead to permanent changes in the skin and tissue.  

People who were treated for breast cancer should be aware of the symptoms so they can seek treatment for lymphedema as soon as possible. They should also consider getting a lymphedema alert bracelet or breast cancer ID for added safety and support. 

As with any medical condition, you should consult your doctor for specific instructions on managing your condition. 

What should I engrave on my medical ID?

MedicAlert offers free custom engraving on all our medical ID products. The engraving should include any critical medical information that can protect and save your life if you are in an accident or have a medical emergency, including: allergies.

  • Lymphedema, and which arm is affected
  • No procedures on LT/RT arm
  • Allergies
  • Other medical conditions
  • Medications
  • Implanted devices
  • Any additonal medical information that needs to be communicated to first responders

The National Breast Cancer Foundation’s mission is to provide help and inspire hope to those affected by breast cancer through early detection, education, and support services.

Feel confident and enjoy peace of mind with MedicAlert