What is lymph?

Lymph is a clear fluid that contains white blood cells. White blood cells help fight infections. Lymph vessels, like blood vessels, run all through the body. They carry lymph, cells and other material. Lymph from tissues and organs drains into the lymph vessels and is carried to the lymph nodes where it is filtered. While lymph nodes are found throughout the body, the ones near the breast are those affected during treatment for breast cancer.

What is lymphedema?

Lymphedema occurs when lymph fluid collects in the arm (or other areas) causing it to swell. This may occur during breast cancer surgery (mastectomy or lumpectomy) or radiation therapy when some of the lymph nodes in the arm are removed to check if cancer cells are present. The blockage of lymph fluid prevents it from leaving the area through the vessels causing the site to swell either slightly or significantly. In severe cases, lymphedema can cause pain and limit movement. And, the look of the affected arm can be upsetting.

 Who gets lymphedema?

Why some breast cancer survivors get lymphedema and others do not is not well understood but some factors that increase risk includes:

  • Removal of a large number of axillary lymph nodes during surgery
  • Radiation to the axillary area
  • A combination of axillary surgery and radiation to the axillary lymph nodes
  • Having a large number of axillary lymph nodes that contain cancer
  • Infections in the area after breast surgery
  • Being overweight

Local Resources

CentraState Healthcare System
901 W. Main Street, Freehold NJ 07728
CentraState’s Lymphedema Program is one of only a few programs in New Jersey that is recognized by the National Lymphedema Network.
For more information about Centrastate’s Lymphedema Program, call (732) 294-2700. Our program is now available in Freehold, Monroe, and Jackson. Our therapists design a personalized treatment plan for the patients and educate them about their condition.

Lymphatic Care Specialists, LLC 
3587 State Highway 9 #313 Freehold, NJ 07728 US
Lymphatic Care Specialists is a full service lymphedema treatment center located in Freehold, New Jersey.
For more information call 1-877-720-7700 or visit

Lymphedema Support Group – Shore Memorial Hospital
1 East New York Avenue, Somers Point, NJ 08244
This bi-monthly lymphedema support group is open to everyone affected by lymphedema.
Phone: 609- 653-3512

Wyatt Rehabilitation
240 Wall Street Suite 100
West Long Branch, NJ 07764-1181 US
Offers treatments and support organizations
Phone: 732-222-8556

Penn Medicine at Cherry Hill
409 East Route 70 Cherry Hill, NJ 8034
Offers Strength After Breast Cancer A Physical Therapy Program
Penn Therapy and Fitness and researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have created a new program for breast cancer survivors. This new program educates survivors about lymphedema and helps them to build strength. We are pleased that this program is now available to all breast cancer survivors who have completed their cancer treatments.
Offers lymphedema treatment.
For more information call 856-216-0047 or visit /

National Resources

Daily Strength Forum
A place to reach out to others who share similar concerns about lymphedema.

Lymphedema Guru
A facebook newsfeed that updates individuals on Lymphedema news and support.

Lymphatic Research Foundation
Find information on lymphedema and clinical trials on lymphedema.

National Lymphedema Network
This site hosts a database of searchable treatment centers and support groups. It also provides education and guidance on the prevention and management of lymphedema.

Patient Advocate Foundation – Financial Aid Fund
Provides financial assistance for lymphedema care and supplies, as well as other treatment expenses.