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Rising Incidence of Lymphedema, Report, Commentary

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— The condition, which is caused by an accumulation of lymphatic fluid that causes pronounced swelling of the extremities, is now more prevalent than once believed.

According to Dr. Joann Brooks of Portsmouth Regional Hospital in New Hampshire, the incidence of lymphedema in the general population is on the rise. Typically a concern of post-op cancer patients, the Dr. cites an increasingly aged population and an epidemic of obesity as contributing factors for the increase. The hospital saw 69 new patients for the condition during 2012, but the numbers worldwide are staggering. An estimated 200 million people suffer from some form of the condition.

Lymphedema is often marked by mild, severe or even disfiguring swelling in one or more extremities, most commonly a single arm or leg. Primary or inherited lymphedema (i.e., occurring on its own) is present at birth, while secondary lymphedema develops as a result of injury to or dysfunction of the lymphatic system. Injury or dysfunction can be brought on by a number of things, including cardiovascular disease, inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, or breast cancer surgery, which is the most common cause of lymphedema in the U.S. Additionally, any type of surgery involving the removal of lymph nodes or vessels can trigger an onset of the condition.

“Unusual or persistent swelling in the extremities should not be ignored,” says Mary Walter, information curator and site moderator. The company offers a comprehensive treatment guide for lymphedema sufferers.

Depending on the cause or stage of the condition, lymphedema is oftentimes irreversible. However, the condition can be managed. Apart from bed rest, elevation of the afflicted limbs, and the traditional compression wraps and bandaging, a new pilot study reveals that acupuncture may relieve symptoms of lymphedema in post-op breast cancer patients.

Regardless of the treatment method(s) patients choose, Walters adds, “It’s important to work closely with a physician who not only has experience treating lymphedema but also knows your history.”

Patients can use the site to find lymphedema therapists in both the United Kingdom and the United States.

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Source: MarketersMedia

Release ID: 12239

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