Breast Cancer Expert Forum
Drainage Tube -- Why not dry out after a month?
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Questions posted in the Breast Cancer Forum are answered by medical professionals and experts. Topics include Breast Biopsy, Chemotherapy, Hormone Therapy, Lumps, Lumpectomy, Lymph node dissection, Lymphedema, Mammograms, Mastectomy, Radiation Therapy, Reconstruction, Self Breast Exam, and Surgery.

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Drainage Tube -- Why not dry out after a month?

Hi, All,

I am new to this discussion group. I am posting this message for my mom and she don't speak English.

My mom who is 66 years old and was recently diagnosed with Breast Cancer and it is very devastating for my husband and me. Her cancer stage is Stage II(b). The doctor performed mastectomy at August 13th for her, which took out her whole left breast and 28 limp nodes. She had three chemos so far. The problem buffers us is, normally the drainage tube stays after the surgery only for a couple weeks for most people and will be taken out once the fluid from the wounds is drained out. However, for my mom, up to today, more than a month later, she still have too much fluid come out from the drainage tube therefore the Dr. could not remove the tube. I am very concerned,  I don't know is that an indication that the surgery is not so successful or an indication of her body is not recovering/have some sort infection? Does any one experience the similar situation? Is there anything we/Dr. can do to help the fluid drain out quicker?

Any inputs and ideas very be greatly appreciated!

Lily
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Dear Lily, There could be varying times for when the drainage tubes is removed after mastectomy.  A month is a long time.  Some of our surgeons remove the tubes after a week regardless of the amount of drainage others when the drainage gets below 30cc, and eventually the drainage stops on its own.  The concern is that the longer the tube is left in place the more chance of infection. You would want to make sure that a fever or redness at the site of insertion, drainage around the tube, a foul odor, change in the color of drainage is reported to the doctor.

This does not mean that the surgery was unsuccessful in terms of removal of the cancer.
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