San Juan Regional Cancer Center offers Lymphedema management as part of its comprehensive array of services available right here in the Four Corners. Our Certified Lymphedema therapist provides Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) on an individualized basis to patients who are referred by their medical provider.
What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is a chronic lymphatic disease that results in potentially disfiguring swelling in one or more parts of the body, most commonly in the arm or leg areas. It can be hereditary (primary lymphedema) or develop when lymph vessels are damaged or lymph nodes are removed (secondary lymphedema) after a surgical procedure, infection, radiation or other physical trauma.
In breast cancer patients, lymphedema can appear in the arm on the same side as the cancer, after lymph nodes are removed from the armpit region for cancer staging. Lymph is the high-protein body fluid that accumulates when the lymphatic system for fluid transport is damaged, resulting in fluid retention, swelling, and inflammation.
There's no cure for lymphedema. But it can be managed with early diagnosis and diligent care of your affected limb.
Signs and Symptoms
• Heavy sensation in the limb(s)
• Tightness of the skin or tissue
• Decreased flexibility in the hand/wrist/foot/ankle
• Difficulty fitting into clothing in one specific area
• Ring/watch/bracelet tightness
Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT)
CDT includes four components:
1) Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD)
2) Compression bandaging
3) Patient education on managing proper skin care and avoiding things that can provoke lymphedema
4) Proper exercise for managing lymphedema.
Since there is no cure for lymphedema, prevention and proper management are key to living a normal, healthy life. Our Certified Lymphedema Therapist can educate you about the risks, prevention, and management of lymphedema. Each appointment is scheduled within the same week as the referral whenever possible. Family and other support people are encouraged to attend.
For more information on lymphedema go to https://www.lymphnet.org/