New procedure helps prevent breast cancer complications in the arm
A local doctor helped save a woman battling breast cancer from additional pain and suffering after performing a procedure she just brought to the CSRA. While we don’t typically connect the arm with breast cancer, one oncologist says you should.
“I feel like I got another chance at life,” sale Dale Boyce, a 45-year-old mother who beat the odds just a few months after developing stage three breast cancer.
“[I] Got to see her graduate,” she said of her daughter. “I got to see her go to her high school prom junior year and I was there when she had pictures and make up done. I just sat back and all this time I thought it was too late.”
Boyce was at work in Williston, South Carolina when she thought her time ran out.
“I got sick and I started bleeding from the breast. I called 911 and they came on to Subway. I was taken to Aiken Regional,” she recalled.
From Aiken Regional, she went to the Georgia Cancer Center where she met breast surgical oncologist, Dr. Alicia Vinyard.
“I had a mastectomy April 25 of 2018,” the survivor said. “I didn’t do the reconstructive.”
It was during that surgery that Dr. Vinyard performed another procedure to prevent Boyce from getting what’s called a lymphedema, when breast cancer has invaded the lymph nodes under the arm.
“There is about 20 to 30 lymph nodes at least in every person, all of us. The lymph nodes that drain the breast also are there to drain your arm,” said Dr. Vinyard. “When you’re doing surgery for cancer, there is really no way to tell which ones go to the breast and which ones go to the arm. So, unfortunately you have to clear out that entire area and you’re left with potentially giving a patient lymphedema.”
Dr. Vinyard says lymphedema causes arm swelling, pain, immobility and chronic infections. About 25 to 30 percent of breast cancer patients develop it, especially those with a higher BMI. But Boyce avoided it with the new procedure Dr. Vinyard brought to the Georgia Cancer Center.
“[With] Some women, the lymphedema is so significant the entire arm is swollen. They have to wear a compression sleeve, not just when they’re on an airplane, but 24/7. If they don’t wear the sleeve, their arm is significantly bigger, it’s heavy, it’s painful. They can’t do exercises. They can’t do anything for themselves. It can cause disability,” Dr. Vinyard said.
Boyce avoided that trauma. And wants other to do that same.
“To you ladies, have your mammograms done,” she said. “It’s something that I didn’t do, but I thank God for a second chance and that I’m here.”
Boyce said she has to complete radiation for the next few months, but she is now cancer free. Doctor Vinyard said the procedure prevents lymphedema by 87 percent.
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