About Lymphedema Prevention
Cancer-related lymphedema is a condition that can result from surgical, radiation and chemotherapy treatments for some cancers, including breast cancer, melanoma and pelvic area cancers. It can lead to abnormal swelling, discomfort and infections that generally occur in one of the arms or legs, and sometimes both arms or both legs. There is no cure for chronic lymphedema. Once it develops, it requires lifelong management.
Our Prevention Approach
Cancer-related lymphedema of the arms and legs develops in stages. When it is caught early, it can be treated and stopped before it gets worse and becomes a lifelong condition. Our new technology, the SOZO® Digital Health Platform, provides an L-DEX® score to help detect lymphedema before you feel noticeable swelling. This early alert allows us to work with you to take steps to stop lymphedema from getting worse, or to avoid getting it at all.
SOZO with L-Dex
The L-Dex score helps us assess whether you are developing lymphedema before you feel noticeable swelling. For best results, patients receive a baseline measurement before cancer treatment begins and are then tested regularly after treatment. If your L-Dex score increases above normal levels, we will evaluate you for early signs of lymphedema. If you don’t get a pre-treatment baseline score, we can still use the L-Dex test to help detect lymphedema early. 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.
Lymphedema Stage Progression
Risk Reduction Tips
The following is a list of basic reduction tips. Please discuss these with your provider or physical therapist to minimize your risk. Your provider may recommend you attend an educational therapy session during your cancer treatment course.
• Follow proper hygiene and use unscented lotion.
• Use sunscreen and insect repellent.
• Avoid injury to the skin.
If you develop a rash along with pain, fever or flu-like symptoms, contact your physician immediately.
• Gradually build up the duration and intensity of any activity or exercise.
• Maintain an optimal weight; higher BMI (body mass index) has been shown to increase risk.
• If possible, avoid having blood pressure or blood draws taken on your at-risk arm.
• Wear looser clothing and jewelry and avoid carrying a heavy shoulder bag on your at-risk side.
Compression garments (if recommended)
• Should be worn for strenuous, out of your normal activity (prolonged standing, exercise)
• Should be considered for air travel
What if I develop lymphedema?
Treatment of lymphedema focuses on five main areas: compression, manual lymphatic massage, skin care, self-management and exercise. Treatment is performed at CRMC Outpatient Rehabilitation Services, located in the Medical Office Building (the building attached to CRMC), Suite 501.
For more information about any of our lymphedema prevention or treatment options, please call CRMC Outpatient Rehabilitation Services at (307) 633-6175.