As of 2013, vascularized lymph node transfer is a new treatment for lymphedema, according to Penn Medicine. After breast cancer treatment, patients often experience lymphedema, which causes symptoms such as swelling, pain and bacterial infection in a leg, an arm or a hand.
Surgeons in America are now performing lymph node transfers, which were popularized in France. During cancer treatment, lymph nodes are commonly removed. Lymph node transfer surgery involves transplanting lymph nodes from one part of the body to the location where lymph nodes were previously removed, explains Penn Medicine. For example, a surgeon relocated a patient's abdominal lymph nodes to the armpit, which reduced the patient's arm and hand lymphedema significantly.