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What is Lymphedema?

July 25 2016
July 25 2016

Lymphedema is one of the scariest long term side effects of breast cancer treatment. It can result when lymph nodes are removed or damaged by surgery and/or radiation. Disfiguring, distressing, and often disabling, lymphedema can only be managed and controlled, not cured. Those who have been treated for breast cancer are at risk for developing this condition, and that risk remains life-long.

Many doctors don't have a great deal of experience with the diagnosis and treatment of lymphedema because medical schools don't teach the lymphatic system at all. A national survey conducted by Dr. Stanley Rockson, Professor of Lymphatic Research and Medicine, Stanford University, showed that the average time spent on teaching the lymphatic system during a four year medical school education is 15 minutes. Left untreated, lymphedema can worsen and cause severe swelling and permanent changes to the tissues under the skin, such as thickening and scarring.

On Friday evening (7/29) will go over the basics of the lymphatic system in order to gain a better understanding of why lymphedema can occur, as well as risk factors and prevention. The last part of the evening will be spent learning self MLD techniques for lymphedema risk/history.

Although there is no way to know whether you will develop lymphedema after breast cancer surgery and/or radiation, it is crucial to become educated on risk factors, risk reduction practices, symptoms, and treatment. Remember, knowledge IS power...

Vickers, Ginny


Ginny Vickers is a graduate of Cortiva Institute, is certified in Manual Lymphatic Drainage through the Vodder Method and has advanced training in Oncology Massage through Tracy Walton. She is a volunteer at AstraZeneca Hope Lodge in Boston where she provides Oncology Massage to residents there and is also a partnering practitioner for Lucy's Love Bus, a charitable trust which provides integrative therapies to children with cancer.






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