Blood Test in affected side after lymph node removal

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Hi everyone

I have had a lymph node clearance and mastectomy on my left side 3 years ago.  I often have blood tests and they really struggle with my veins and often want to try and use my left arm instead.  I have always said no due to lymphoedema risk but the nurse that took my blood yesterday said that things have changed now and they can use affected arm to take blood (but not for injections or blood pressure).

I was just wondering if anyone has had blood taken okay from their affected side?  

thanks so much everyone.


  •  I have, and have BP done and drips, and was OK. I had bilateral lymph node clearance so had no choice. Foot veins were unproductive, as were drips, and BP was inaccurate and read higher than it should so was dangerous, particularly pre op.As long as BP checks are not excessive, and drips are put  into hand veins by someone who knows what they are doing it seems OK. I stress that it should be someone who knows what they are doing! You have to be alert and assertive to make sure they are aware of the lymphoedema risk. Quite a few of them don’t know about it and you have to explain. Good luck xx

    Onwards and flatwards (don't do hills) and keep walking if you can!

  • my onc said same, taking blood from left is ok, but injections not, so will allow because right arm knackered

  • Hi I have bi lateral lymph node removal and have had lots of vaccines and blood tests with no problems. I asked my consultant about 6 months after treatment and he said he'd written a paper about it and it has been proven that needles and blood pressure readings do not cause lymphoedema. 

  • Hi,

    I'm a NHS community Phlebotomist, and it isn't stressed enough to us not to take blood from the arm which has had the lymph nodes removed, so as a safety caution I just wont. Majority of my patients make me aware however some seem to not be told by the consultants and have no idea that lymphoedema can be caused by this. It is confusing to get told different information all the time by different people, so for safety reasons I follow the no nodes no touch, I do agree with it depends who is taking your bloods, experience and confidence is essential when dealing with patients who have had chemo as it can take a toll on your body/veins.

    I think if you have had them removed in the past 10 years I would recommended sticking on the other arm as you dont want to risk illness/trip to hospital for the sake of a blood test.

    Hope this helps :) Thanks

  • Dear Gam

    thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my message. Your reply is really helpful. Thank you ever so much. 

  • Hi SDee

    I have just read your post which was posted 5months ago.  How are you now?   I am going to have surgery next Tue, mastectomy and lymph nodes clearance.  Since when I diagnosed breast cancer, I was told the lymph nodes are negative, but during the waiting time, there was new finding and I need to do lymph nodes instead of sentinel just few days before surgery.  I am so worry, can you share your experience?  Thanks xx

  • Hi Nana75

    I am so sorry to hear of your diagnosis. It can be a petrifying time and brings up every emotion imaginable. Just keep telling yourself everything will be okay and you are being well looked after and just take each day as it comes.

    I am absolutely fine now. I had a left sided mastectomy and they were going to remove some lymph nodes but then upon examination 29 of the 32 lymph nodes were cancerous so I had a clearance. The mastectomy healed so so well, the operation was very quick and I was out of hospital within a couple of days. . It’s the lymph node clearance that has been the more troublesome. It can leave you with a very numb feeling. I was numb from my elbow almost down to my ribs and I developed something called cording..

    This feels like a piece of string that’s pulling along your ribs. I had physiotherapy which got rid of it within a couple of months though. I had my surgery in December 2020 and the only numbness I have now is at the back of my arm. one piece of advice I would strongly ask you to think about is to do the exercises they give you after surgery. They are mainly stretching exercises, reaching up wall and laying down and stretching your hands above your head.

    One piece of advice I would strongly emphasise is to do the exercises they give you after surgery. They are mainly stretching exercises, reaching up a wall and laying down and stretching your hands above your head. Please, please do them as they will help in the long run and will help your recovery in the short term. But ensure you follow exactly what they tell you to do

     I had my surgery in December 2020 and the only numbness I have now is at the back of my arm. I obviously have to be very careful with regards to lymphoedema. I heed all the warnings about not having blood tests, injections or blood pressure taken on my mastectomy side. I also am very careful not to get any cuts or burns on my left arm. Also when I fly, I wear a sleeve on my left arm and obviously wear the socks for DVT. Do not  use a razor to shave your mastectomy side and I don’t wear underwired bras.

     There’s no lying, it does take awhile to get used to having a mastectomy. I felt awfully lopsided for the first few months. But I can now say that I am so used to it. I swim, I play squash, I lay by a pool in a bikini and I hardly think about it anymore.

    If I do get off days, I tell myself that I am healthy, I am cancer free and the surgery worked, which is the most important thing. 

    you are more than welcome to contact me if you have any other questions.

    if you are looking to buy new bras I recommend Nicola Jane and Amoena to start with.

    Please also speak to your breast care nurse, mine were amazing and they knew it all!

    I wish you all the very best and will be thinking about you on Tuesday.

    I wish you all the very best and will be thinking about you on Tuesday.

    Take care


  • Hi Sian

    I am very grateful for your sharing.  I am same as you as left side mastectomy. You understand my feeling well.  I am worrying lymphoedema, I am so scare. I am so worry spreading out becuase at the 1st biopsy, nodes in armpit were no cancerous but there have new findings just few days before surgery.

    Thank you for your details.  I am feeling better now and feeling safe.  You make me feel relaxed. I will remind myself to keep going to do the exercises.

    Again, thank you!  You're a very nice girl.

    I wish you all the best.  I will fight for it.


  • Hi Sian, I had aright mastectomy and full node clearance, no sign of cancer in the lymph nodes.20 years ago. In April this year I had left mastectomy and full node clearance. Cancer was found in 6 nodes.  I had to have surgery again the day after my mastectomy for haematoma. It was decided to take blood from my right arm while waiting for the operation, it was a real struggle for them as they couldn’t get any blood out.  My arm was a right mess.  Eventually the got a cannula in ready for surgery.  Last week had to have blood taken again to start my treatment but they only got half an in out in two tubes.  I am getting more pain in it now but I think this may be due to my new medication.  Stay well.xx

  • Hi audreyg

    thank you so much for your message. I was so sorry to hear of the struggles you’ve had. I do hope things settle down for you and the pain gets better.  But please stay strong and positive! S