LYMPHOEDEMA Awareness Week is being held between September 16 and 23 and Cwm Taf Health Board will be helping to raise the profile of this condition.
National statistics show there are 7,300 cases in Wales.
The lymphoedema service at the health board was launched last year and is based at Dewi Sant Hospital in Pontypridd.
Meet the Team
From left to right:
Diane Jehu, lymphoedema practitioner; Wendy Dury; lymphoedema assistant; and Karen Wingfield, lead lymphoedema specialist
Lymphoedema is the term used to describe swelling that can occur anywhere in the body, but most commonly affects the limbs. It is important to note, that swelling can occur for different reasons, and it is essential that a diagnosis about the underlying cause of swelling is made by a qualified health care professional.
There are two classifications of lymphoedema: primary and secondary - dependent on the cause.
Primary lymphoedema may be present at birth, develop at puberty or in mid-life, and relates to abnormal functioning of the lymphatic system.
Secondary lymphoedema may occur following treatment for cancer, surgery, radiation therapy, recurrent infections or trauma.
If it is left untreated, there is a risk that it may worsen.
The condition is not curable, but there are ways to control and manage symptoms that can also help to improve quality of life.
The health board’s service provides a specialist assessment and treatment facility for:
• non cancer-related lymphoedema patients
• prevention of cancer-related lymphoedema (patients who have or had cancer but who do not have lymphoedema
It also offers a one-off information session on how to prevent lymphoedema and clinics are held at Dewi Sant Hospital, Pontypridd and in Keir Hardie Health Park in Merthyr Tydfil.
An educational pop-up has been placed in Keir Hardie Health Park to raise awareness of the condition to the public and staff.
Lots of patients have benefitted from the service and one of them said: “I would like to thank you all for your kindness to me these last couple of months. You made things so much easier and you all deserve a big medal. Thank you so much.”
Lymphoedema affects at least 100,000 men, women and children in the UK. Living with a long-term condition can be challenging and the patient’s involvement with and commitment to their self-treatment plan is essential.
Everyone who develops lymphoedema is an individual with different needs. Understanding the condition and receiving support and information on how to adapt everyday living are key elements in its management.
Karen Wingfield, the health board’s lead lymphoedema specialist said: “Raising awareness of lymphoedema and the service we provide will ensure patients get the support they need.
“We work in collaboration with district nurses and the tissue viability team when treating patients, and if a patient is self caring of lymphoedema and stable they can be discharged to the care of their General Practitioner. However, this could be approximately one to two years after they started treatment.”
A patient information day will be held on Monday, September 16 at The Orangery, Margam Park, Port Talbot. Entrance is free and to book a place please call 01792 285 252.
The following two organisations provide help and advice for patients:
What is the British Lymphology Service (BLS)
What is the British Lymphology Society (BLS)?
BLS members consist of health care professionals, as well as others who are directly involved in the management of lymphoedema. Members are encouraged to actively participate in helping to further the work of the society. For further information please ring 01452 790178 or access the following website:
The Lymphoedema Support Network - is a registered charity run by people who live with lymphoedema and is the largest information provider about the condition in the UK. For further information please ring 020 7351 0990 or access the following website: http://www.lymphoedema.org/