Sheila H. Ridner, PhD, RN, FAAN, is the Martha Rivers Ingram Professor of Nursing at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in Nashville, TN. She is an internationally recognized scientist and expert in the field of lymphedema and lymphatic research.
Hello Dr. Ridner: In 1999 I had 15 lymph nodes removed in association with a diagnosis of breast cancer and I am currently lymphedema free. I am interested in flying as a mode of transportation but have heard that the cabin pressure changes could cause Lymphodema. Is there any new information and/or treatment options for people who want to travel by air, but are at risk for lymphedema?
Response from Dr. Ridner:
“Thanks so much for your question and congratulations on 15 years of survival and being lymphedema free. I am unaware of any new information regarding air travel, or any older evidence based information that addresses this concern. Some lymphedema at-risk patients chose to see a certified lymphedema therapist prior to flying and purchase a well-fitted compression sleeve to wear when flying. This is the most common risk reduction practice for air travel, though it is not based on research. If you think you would like to obtain a sleeve, please see a certified lymphedema therapist and be fitted by someone who is experienced in measuring arms for the compression sleeves, as a wearing poor fitting sleeve is believed to put you at risk for lymphedema. For more information on this please check out http://lymphnet.org/resources/position-paper-lymphedema-risk-reduction-practices. I hope you enjoy you upcoming travel!