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Vascular Experts Call for Increased Awareness of Growing Problem of Lymphedema
Date:2/12/2009

p>Characterized by progressive swelling of one or more limbs due to the accumulation of excessive lymph fluid, lymphedema affects both men and women. Once established, the disease has an inexorable tendency to progress. In the United States, it most commonly occurs in the upper limb after breast cancer surgery and lymph node removal on the body side in which the surgery was performed. Some 15-30 percent of breast cancer survivors will experience the condition, and for many it remains a lingering threat because it can strike many years after their cancer was treated. Lymphedema may also occur in the lower limbs or groin (genital edema) after surgery for colon, ovarian or uterine cancer in which removal of lymph nodes is required.

Physicians and medical staff who practice in fields where lymphedema is infrequently seen may fail to correctly diagnose the condition. Moreover, many insurance companies make the expensive mistake of not recognizing lymphedema as a serious condition that becomes progressively worse without proper treatment. And lymphedema treatment providers and insurers may not be aware of the most advanced therapeutic technologies, leaving the patient with the risk of suboptimal care.

Lymphedema Diagnosis and Treatment

Most people do not know what lymphedema is until they have it. Physical examination may reveal a region of persistent edema, and painful thickened skin with a dimpled "orange-skin" texture, among other signs. Treatment for lymphedema varies depending on the severity of the edema and the degree of chronic scarring of the affected limb. Most people with chronic lymphedema follow a daily regimen of life-long self-care as prescribed by their physician or overseen by a certified lymphedema therapist.

Decongestive Therapy

The gold standard of care for lymphedema relies upon a set of techniques called Complex Decongestive Therapy (CDT) designed to reduce swelling and
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SOURCE Versaggi Biocommunications
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