Ann Fonfa's eLetter to Canadian Medical Journal

eLetters: Lyphedema ALWAYS requires treatment

In response to: Clinical practice guidelines for the care and treatment of breast cancer: 11. Lymphedema Ann E. Fonfa

Email: annfonfa@aol.com Affiliation: The Annie Appleseed Project Posted on: January 29, 2001

"A recent article stated: 'Clinicians should elicit symptoms of heaviness, tightness or swelling in the affected arm. A difference of more than 2.0 cm at any of the 4 measurement points may warrant treatment of the lymphedema, provided that tumour involvement of the axilla or brachial plexus, infection and axillary vein thrombosis have been ruled out''.

I strongly suggest that all instances of lymphedema be treated promptly. It is possible to give the patient relief through treatment. Smaller swelling responds well to treatment.

There is no reason to wait until the swelling reaches 2.0 cm. I say this as a (breast) cancer patient and advocate who has suffered with lymphedema since about 3 weeks after initial axillary node dissection surgery (done without my express and informed consent).

I was a member of the Etiology Working Group of The National Action Plan on Breast Cancer in the U.S., spoke at the National Lymphedema Network's annual meeting in 1999, wrote several lay articles about lymphedema and sentinel node biopsy and run a website for those interested in complementary/alternative cancer therapies. www.annieappleseedproject.org which features several articles on lymphedema.

Thank you."  

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