Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Prevention, Risk Reduction, And Treatment Of Lymphedema

Date:
October 15, 2009
Source:
American Physical Therapy Association
Summary:
Lymphedema is a chronic, debilitating and often irreversible side effect of cancer treatment.

As breast cancer awareness month is observed during October, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is hoping to shine a spotlight on lymphedema, a chronic, debilitating and often irreversible side effect of cancer treatment.

Related Articles


Breast cancer-related lymphedema, which can cause significant swelling of the upper and lower extremities due to the build-up of excess lymph fluid, is mostly caused by damage to the body's lymphatic system during treatment for cancer and can include limited movement, joint pain, and difficulty performing activities. Physical therapists, who are experts in restoring motion and mobility in people's lives, play an important role not only in treating the effects of lymphedema but also in reducing the risk of occurrence.

A study published in the journal Cancer (April 25, 2008) showed that pre-operative assessments of patients with breast cancer by physical therapists allow for earlier diagnosis and treatment of lymphedema. This includes programs that use infra-red technology to measure limb volume and regular post-operative follow-up to detect lymphedema.

The study further demonstrated that when lymphedema was detected early, the patient's condition was managed with a more conservative approach that included a light-grade compression sleeve and hand gauntlet that effectively decreased early swelling and possibly prevented the progression of lymphedema. Fitted by a physical therapist, these were prescribed for daily wear.

"Lymphedema is normally treated with more aggressive and often costly and time-consuming techniques, such as complete decongestive therapy," explained APTA Board member and spokesperson, and the study's lead author, Nicole Stout, PT, MPT, CLT-LANA. Complete decongestive therapy requires the patient to attend daily therapy sessions for weeks and wear bulky compression bandages.

"This study clearly demonstrates the fact that lymphedema can be managed with a more conservative treatment option when diagnosed in its earliest stages, which is good news for patients with breast cancer," Stout said. "Based on these findings, we encourage patients with breast cancer to seek referral for physical therapy services before, during and after breast cancer treatment because arm problems can occur at any time during the course of care and the best outcomes are reached when they can be detected early, or even prevented.

"We hope physicians, surgeons, oncologists, and other physical therapists will make early intervention and conservative treatment of lymphedema the standard of care in breast cancer treatment," Stout concluded.

APTA Board member Babette Sanders, PT, MS, knows firsthand the benefits of using physical therapy for prevention and maintenance of keeping lymphedema at bay. "Swelling occurred immediately in my upper arm and trunk after my mastectomy," she said. "By quickly incorporating physical therapy as part of my overall management of the condition, I was able to get rid of the swelling and have since kept it away. I am able to remain lymphedema free with monthly preventative treatment. It makes a tremendous difference in the quality of my daily living and my ability to move and function."

Stout recommends patients with breast cancer be aware of their risk factors and indicators of the onset of lymphedema:

Risk Factors

  • Being overweight or gaining weight during or after cancer treatment
  • Having lymph nodes removed
  • Having radiation therapy
  • Having an infection or blood clot in the limb affected by cancer treatment

Warning Signs

  • Aching or heaviness in the limb that was affected by cancer treatment
  • A feeling of fullness or tightness in the limb affected by cancer treatment
  • Visible swelling that affects the limb affected by cancer treatment

Some risk factors, such as the necessary treatment for cancer, cannot be avoided. However, there are many things you can do to help reduce the risk of lymphedema, such as:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Follow proper skin care and hygiene practices
  • Avoid infections from cuts, burns, or skin wounds
  • Exercise sensibly and avoid unnecessary strain to the limb

According to APTA, breast cancer patients who seek the services of a physical therapist can reduce their risk of lymphedema, as it can be prevented or more effectively managed if caught in its earliest stages and treated by a physical therapist. APTA is launching this effort as it kicks off National Physical Therapy Month in October to educate the public about the important role physical therapists and physical therapist assistants play in health care.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Physical Therapy Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Physical Therapy Association. "Prevention, Risk Reduction, And Treatment Of Lymphedema." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091015171455.htm>.
American Physical Therapy Association. (2009, October 15). Prevention, Risk Reduction, And Treatment Of Lymphedema. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091015171455.htm
American Physical Therapy Association. "Prevention, Risk Reduction, And Treatment Of Lymphedema." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091015171455.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Texas Nurse Nina Pham Cured of Ebola

Texas Nurse Nina Pham Cured of Ebola

AFP (Oct. 25, 2014) — An American nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for a Liberian patient in Texas has been declared free of the virus and will leave the hospital. Duration: 01:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) — IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) — A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) — The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins