Pathology of the Stars: Kathy Bates

Academy award winning actress Kathy Bates is struggling with lymphedema of her upper extremiteis after bilateral mastectomy.  She won the academy award for the movie Misery in 1990.  She also had roles in Fried Green Tomatoes, Delores Clairborne, The Waterboy, American Horror Story,  and she played 'Molly Brown' in Titanic.

 Secondary (obstructive) Lymphedema is caused by the blockage of previously normal lymphatic channels. Lymphatic obstruction leads to edema because of decreased clearance of interstitial fluid. Persistant lymphedema can result in an increased deposition of connective tissue in the interstitium and in severe cases may cause elephantiasis.

Watch the video below to hear Kathy Bates discuss her struggles with lymphedema:



The major causes of secondary lymphedema include:

  • Surgical lymph node excision (ie. axillary dissection for breast cancer)
  • Obstruction by malignant tumor (ie.Peau d' orange appearance of the skin in Inflammatory breast cancer)
  • Filiariasis induced scarring of lymphatics
  • Radiation induced scarring of lymphatics
  • Postinflammatory scarring of lymphatics



  • Stage 1 Spontaneous reversible (pitting)
  • Stage 2 Spontaneous irreversible (non-pitting and fibrosis)
  • Stage 3 Lymphostatic elephantiasis (fibrotic)



  • Compression: Garments and Bandages
  • Compression: Lymphatic massage
  • Exercise
  • Surgery


Photo Credit By Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0


#1 Corneliu B 2016-04-24 03:15
Thank you very much .I saw recently one patient with same pathology as result of axillary lymph node disection for Breast Canacer few years ago . Is debilitating and there is not to much that can be done .
Category: Pathology of the Stars

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