Today is World Lymphedema Day, a day to raise awareness for a condition affecting approximately 100,000 people in the United Kingdom alone (Moffatt et al., 2003). To commemorate this day, I would like to increase awareness around its cause and treatment, which is essential for early diagnosis and finding solutions to help individuals maintain well-being.
Lymphedema occurs when the lymphatic system is damaged. This causes proteins and tissue fluid to remain within the tissues and build up between the cells. As a result, tissue swelling occurs.
One of the most common causes of the condition is cancer treatment and surgery that affects the lymphatic system. It is particularly prevalent in patients who have been treated for breast cancer with 44.8% of patients developing secondary lymphedema (Paiva, D.M.F. et al, 2013). Awareness amongst care staff and patients is therefore important for aftercare in implementing preventative measures and early diagnosis.
The sooner an appropriate therapy is started, the better the chances are of preventing the progression and even improving the condition, that is, to diminish the severity of the edema. This is why I feel that awareness of symptoms and contributing risk factors is so important.
Currently, there is no cure for lymphedema, so effective treatment relies on exercise, compression therapy, massaging and daily self-care routines and hygiene to prevent infection.
We want people living with lymphedema to be empowered by the ability to develop a care plan that fits in with their lifestyle.
Patient-centric care of lymphedema is essential for ensuring that people living with the condition can maintain an active life and participate fully in society. Our Medical Solutions brand JOBST® specializes in improving the quality of life for those suffering from venous & lymphatic diseases. This involves innovation work that helps to improve side-effects like sleep quality and psychosocial impacts.
There is still work to do in finding a cure for this condition and understanding its cause, but in the meantime, we are dedicated to developing and improving solutions that improve lives.
/Ulrika Kolsrud, President Health and Medical Solutions