Food Network celebrity Sandra Lee has been hospitalized due to complications following breast cancer surgery.
According to Page Six, the 49-year-old Semi-Homemade Cooking host was rushed to the hospital when she experienced an ” an extremely painful fluid buildup” in the areas where she had undergone a bilateral mastectomy in May 2015. She had been diagnosed with cancer earlier in the month. A friend of Lee’s told Page Six:
“She’s going to be in for a couple of days.She started having pain. She knew something was wrong. It’s some sort of fluid buildup and pain. She was just feeling general fatigue and run down.”
Lee’s long-time partner, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, was reportedly at a his friend Billy Joel’s farewell concert at the soon to be closed Nassau Coliseum , but rushed back to be at Sandra’s side.
Specifics about the Lee’s medical condition were not released, but this gives us the opportunity to talk about two potential post-mastectomy complications, both of which involve the abnormal collection of fluid: seroma, and lymphedema.
A seroma is a collection of serous fluid in a place where tissue has been removed by surgery. Serous fluid is sterile, clear to pale yellow body fluid which lines the inside of body cavities. Fluid can build up under the skin typically close to an incision site. Seromas typically occur within 1-2 weeks after surgery. If the fluid builds up too much, the area will look swollen and may be painful.
If the seroma is small, nothing may need to be done. The excess fluid will be reabsorbed by the body. Larger seromas are treated with removal of the excess fluid with a needle and syringe. This may need to be done more than once. Pain medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be suggested to aid with pain.
Although uncommon, seromas can become infected, so patients should look out for signs of infection, including redness or warmth at the site and fever over 101.4 F or drainage of cloudy or bloody fluid from the incision.
Lymphedema is the build-up of fluid in soft body tissues when the lymph system is damaged or blocked. It is a common problem that may be caused by cancer and cancer treatment. Lymphedema usually affects an arm or leg, but it can also affect other parts of the body.
The parts of the lymph system that play a direct part in lymphedema include the following:
When the lymph system is working as it should, lymph flows through the body and is returned to the bloodstream:
Cancer and its treatment are risk factors for lymphedema. Lymphedema can occur after any cancer or treatment that affects the flow of lymph through the lymph nodes, such as removal of lymph nodes or radiation therapy. Lymphedema often occurs in breast cancer patients who had all or part of their breast removed and axillary (underarm) lymph nodes removed.
It may develop within days or many years after treatment. Most lymphedema develops within three years of surgery.
Possible signs of lymphedema include swelling of the arms or legs. Other symptoms can include:
The goal of treatment is to control the swelling and other problems caused by lymphedema.
Damage to the lymph system cannot be repaired. Treatment is given to control the swelling caused by lymphedema and keep other problems from developing or getting worse. Physical (non-drug) therapies are the standard treatment. Treatment may be a combination of several of the physical methods. The goal of these treatments is to help patients continue with activities of daily living, to decrease pain, and to improve the ability to move and use the limb (arm or leg) with lymphedema. Drugs are not usually used for long-term treatment of lymphedema.
Treatment of lymphedema may include the following: