Specialised Lymphoedema Oncology Clinic: A Comprehensive Approach to Cancer Care

22 March 2024

Cancer treatment can bring about various challenges, and one often-overlooked aspect is lymphoedema.

The Wesley Hospital recognises this concern and has established a dedicated Lymphoedema Oncology Clinic to address the needs of individuals undergoing cancer treatment affected by lymphoedema.

Lymphoedema, characterised by tissue swelling due to an accumulation of protein-rich fluid, typically occurs when the body's lymphatic system fails to drain properly.

While it commonly manifests in the arms or legs, it can also affect other areas such as the chest wall, abdomen, neck, and genitals.

Occupational Therapist Alexandria (Alex) Randall said one of the most common causes of lymphoedema is cancer and the treatment of cancer.

“Cancer cells can obstruct lymph vessels, leading to lymphoedema. Tumours growing near lymph nodes or vessels may impede the flow of lymph fluid, causing swelling,” Alex said.

“Patients undergoing radiation therapy, while crucial in cancer treatment, can inadvertently damage lymph nodes or vessels, resulting in scarring and inflammation that contribute to lymphoedema.

“In addition to this many cancer surgeries involve the removal of lymph nodes to assess disease progression. While this is necessary for diagnosis and treatment planning, it can disrupt the lymphatic system's normal function and predispose individuals to lymphoedema.”

At Wesley Hospital, the Lymphoedema Oncology Clinic boasts a team of lymphoedema trained occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

“These professionals collaborate within a multidisciplinary framework, ensuring patients receive holistic care tailored to their individual needs,” Alex said.

“These specialists provide hands-on treatment and guidance, including manual lymphatic drainage, compression therapy, and exercise programs tailored to improve lymphatic flow and reduce swelling.

“These trained experts are joined by a multidisciplinary team of dietitians, exercise physiologists, psychologists and speech pathologists who work collaboratively together supporting the patient reach their individual goals.”

The Wesley Hospital's commitment to comprehensive cancer care extends beyond medical interventions to encompass the physical, emotional, and psychological aspects of healing.

By integrating lymphoedema management into its oncology services, the hospital ensures that patients receive the support they need to navigate cancer treatment with dignity and resilience.

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