- Question from MsMadelyn: Reading this could leave someone facing lymphedema (or its possibility) feeling a little hopeless and helpless. So is there any good news about improvements in the future through research or improved methods?
- Answers - Kathryn Schmitz There's already been good news. The first good news is that we're no longer ripping all the underarm nodes out of women. There was a time, less than 10 years ago, when it was common to remove all of the nodes under the arm, and the rate of lymphedema was higher. So already, we've cut the rate of lymphedema in half or more by the introduction of sentinel lymph node surgery. There has been a lot of recent research that will clarify that women do not need to be as restricted as previously thought in their activities if they have lymphedema.
- Nicole Stout We're also training more and more therapists every year to become more specialized in lymphedema management, and those therapists are telling the world the fact that there is treatment available for lymphedema. A decade ago we used to tell women they had to live with lymphedema, and we have novel interventions today.
- Jennifer Sabol, M.D., F.A.C.S. I have to say from a surgery standpoint, I've seen dramatic decreases again with the rate of lymphedema thanks to sentinel node biopsies. But one of the best improvements I've seen is the acknowledgment by the physical therapists we're using that it's not a question of trying to limit someone's activity so this doesn't happen. I now see more therapists asking their patients what they want to do in their life, such as water-skiing or climbing a mountain, and then finding innovative ways to help them get there.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Preventing and Treating Arm Lymphedema featured Kathryn Schmitz, Ph.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S.M.,Nicole Stout, M.P.T. C.L.T.-L.A.N.A., and moderator Jennifer Sabol, M.D., F.A.S.C. answering your questions about ways to prevent and manage lymphedema.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in April 2008.
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