Bob Weiss, lymphactivist, has drafted a basic fact sheet for lymphadema. Here is his list:
LYMPHEDEMA FACT SHEET
- There are between two and eight million lymphedema sufferers in the U.S.
- Lymphedema is a swelling of a limb or part of the body that is caused by a functional inability of the lymphatic system to transport intercellular lymphatic fluid back to the circulatory system.
- Lymphedema can affect the arms, legs, breast, back, abdomen, groin, genitalia and/or internal organs.
- Congenital (primary) lymphedema is caused by a malformed lymphatic system and can be present at birth, develop at puberty, or onset in later years.
- Secondary lymphedema can be caused by trauma to the lymphatic system, disease/infection, or parasites.
- Secondary lymphedema is common as a result of cancer treatment (breast, prostate, reproductive, melanoma) or as a result of vein harvesting for coronary arterial by-pass operations.
- Treatment procedures have been developed in Europe over the last 30 years, but have only been accepted by American medicine the last 10 years.
- The current standard of treatment for lymphedema is called "complex or complete decongestive therapy" and has been the recommended protocol in Europe since 1995 (International Society of Lymphology) and in the U.S. since 1998 (American Cancer Society Lymphedema Workshop).
- Complex Decongestive Therapy (CDT) is a multi-modal treatment that comprises ALL of the following modalities:
- Manual lymph drainage
- Compression therapy (bandage systems, compression garments, manually-adjustable compression devices)
- Lymph stimulating exercises while under compression
- Meticulous skin care