Lymph nodes are small clumps of immune cells that act as filters for the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system runs throughout the body like the circulatory blood system and carries fluid and cells. Figure 4. Prognosis is better when cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes lymph node-negative [ 13 ]. The more lymph nodes that contain cancer, the poorer prognosis tends to be [ 13 ].
It may be more common if radiation is given after surgery or in women who are obese. Sometimes the swelling lasts for only a few weeks and then goes away. But in some women, it lasts a long time. If your arm is swollen, tight, or painful after lymph node surgery, be sure to tell someone on your cancer care team right away.