Samaritan Medical Center’s lymphedema therapy program focuses on providing individualized treatment to minimize your symptoms, maximize your comfort and restore movement. In addition, each patient is taught techniques to help manage and control the condition at home.
For some cancer patients, beating the disease is only one step in their return to health. Certain cancer treatments can put a person at risk for a secondary condition known as lymphedema, an abnormal build-up of fluid that causes swelling and discomfort – most often in the arms or legs, thickening or hardening of the skin in the affected limb, reduced range of motion and repeated infections.
Although lymphedema is most commonly known as a complication of breast cancer treatment, it can also result from treating many other types of cancer, including head and neck, lymphoma, melanoma, ovarian, prostate and uterine – anywhere that lymph nodes are removed or damaged by radiation, chemotherapy or surgery. And lymphedema does not solely affect cancer survivors. Other causes include infection, obesity, venous insufficiency, and trauma, or being born with a faulty lymphatic system.
If you’ve undergone any type of procedure that’s affected your lymphatic system or have had an illness that involved it, you may be at risk of lymphedema – a risk that persists for life. Cancer survivors and others at risk should:
• Be aware that lymphedema is a possibility
• Seek care at the first sign of symptoms
• Take steps to try to reduce the risk of injury and infection, including scratches and bruises, to the at-risk arm or leg
Although there is no cure for lymphedema, the condition can be successfully treated and managed. Samaritan Medical Center has staff specially trained in the treatment of lymphedema who can help you reduce your risk for the disease or keep your symptoms under control. Our Certified Lymphatic Therapist provides Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), a combination of manual lymphatic drainage, massage, therapeutic exercise, compression bandaging, skin care and education in self-management techniques. While treatment is individualized for each person, it generally involves two phases: intensive treatment with a therapist followed by self-management for maintenance. The first phase normally lasts two to four weeks, with therapy visits five times a week.
Educate Yourself About Lymphedema
If you or a loved one are at risk for lymphedema, you owe it to yourself to learn more about this disease and how it can be prevented and treated. Samaritan Medical Center is hosting quarterly educational sessions that can help. These sessions are free and open to the public. Call 315-785-4088 to find out when the next session will be.
Patient Navigation Services for Cancer Care
When you learn you may have cancer or receive an actual diagnosis of the disease, it is often a difficult, confusing and anxious time in your life. You will have questions and concerns about your health, and you may need help in getting the care you need. At Samaritan Medical Center, a nurse navigator is available to help all patients who have cancer to ‘navigate’ through the healthcare system. This program is designed to help you clarify and understand the many aspects of your diagnosis and treatment. Learn More about Patient Navigation Services for Cancer Care.