Lympedema Prevention/Reducing Risk

Lympedema Prevention/Reducing Risk

Lympedema Prevention/Reducing Risk

It is important to understand that there is no guarantee that patients can prevent lymphedema if they are at risk for it. Those patients at-risk should ask their physician if their institution has a Lymphedema Prevention Program (LPP) in place. With an LPP, an institution can ensure that the proper protocols are in place such that lymphedema can be detected and managed BEFORE it becomes a debilitating, chronic condition. In addition, patients can request to be  referred to a certified lymphedema therapist (CLT) to discuss their individual case. The CLT will screen the patient for lymphedema by taking baseline measurements of the at-risk and unaffected limbs to keep records. 

You may want to consider the following helpful guides. 

Many of them are common sense approaches to living not only a healthy life, but to helping reduce the risk of lymphedema.

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Eating a healthy balanced diet and exercising can help keep a normal body weight, which can also significantly lower the risk of lymphedema.
  • Exercise: Before a patient begins an exercise routine, they should check with their medical professional or CLT. It’s useful to gradually build up the time and intensity of your workouts to see how their body reacts.
  • Pay close attention: Monitor the at-risk area to see if there is any abnormal swelling, change in sensation, shape of the limb, soreness, or heaviness.
  • Develop a sensible skin care routine:  Keeping skin clean, dry, and well cared for is super important. Be sure to apply moisturizer to keep skin from cracking, and wear sunscreen and bug spray when outdoors.
  • Know the signs of infections: Infections are dangerous for anyone, but especially for those at-risk of lymphedema. Patients should make sure to clean all cuts, scrapes, and insect bites as soon as they happen and keep an eye on them. It’s a great idea to keep a small first aid kit when you travel or are outdoors.
  • Protect the at-risk limb: Patients should try to avoid injury to that area such as cuts, scrapes, or even needle sticks. If and when possible, ask medical professionals to do blood draws or vaccines on the limb that is not at-risk.
  • Avoid tight fitting objects on your at-risk limb: Patients should try not to wear tight fitting clothes, rings, jewelry, or carry a heavy bag or purse on the at-risk side. This also goes for avoiding blood pressure cuffs on the at-risk side if possible.

Lymphedema After Cancer

Cancer-related lymphedema is a condition that can result from surgical, radiation, and chemotherapy treatments for some cancers including:
• Breast cancer
• Melanoma
• Pelvic area cancers

Lymphedema can cause the following symptoms:
• Swelling in your arms, hands, fingers, legs or feet
• A feeling of heaviness or tightness
• Your arm, hand, leg, or foot is hard to move
• Clothes, rings, watches, or shoes feel tight

If lymphedema is left untreated:
• It can lead to infection
• It can become a life-long condition

Stage 0

Subclinical

Lymphatic system is blocked, setting the stage for fluid build-up

Stage 1

Pitting Edema

Fluid build-up causes swelling; some pitting may appear on the skin

Stage 2

Irreversible

The affected limb becomes hard and increases in size

Stage 3

Elephantiasis

The affected limb becomes very large and misshapen and the skin looks like leather

Prevention

The Lymphedema Prevention Program follows three steps to find early signs of lymphedema and stop it from getting worse.

Test

After cancer treatment you will be tested for lymphedema during your follow-up visits using the L-Dex® score on the SOZO® device.

Trigger

If your L-Dex score increases above normal levels, your healthcare provider will evaluate you for early signs of lymphedema.

Treat

Your healthcare provider will prescribe the treatment that best fits your condition. For early lymphedema, this may include at-home treatment with compression garments.

L-Dex Score

The L-Dex score helps your healthcare provider know if you are getting lymphedema before you feel any signs or symptoms. It is measured using the SOZO device. A normal L-Dex score is between -10 and +10. Your L-Dex score may be measured before cancer treatment begins to figure out normal L-Dex score for you.

L-Dex Score

SOZO

The SOZO device is used to measure your L-Dex score. It looks like a scale, but it has places for you to put your hands and feet. You will not feel the SOZO test and it only takes 30 seconds to complete.

Interested in finding a SOZO provider near you? Click the button below.

Videos

Press Release

ImpediMed Limited, a global provider of medical technology to non-invasively measure, monitor and manage tissue composition and fluid status using bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS), today announced a collaboration with the LIVE Today Foundation. The partnership involves activities that reflect a joint mission of improving awareness and access to care for cancer patients in the U.S. who are at risk of developing lymphedema or are struggling with it today. ImpediMed will provide support to the foundation for the purchase and distribution of lymphedema compression garments to underserved patients as well as help to develop and implement educational programs for physicians and patients. To read more about our partnership with ImpediMed Limited click here or click the button below.