National lymphoedema awareness week aims to increase understanding

National lymphoedema awareness week takes place from 15–22 September and aims to raise the profile of this chronic, progressive condition, which affects over 200,000 people of all ages in the UK and Ireland.

The week, organised by the British Lymphology Society, hopes to increase awareness and understanding about the little-known condition. Lymphoedema is a chronic and permanent swelling that can affect any area of the body, most commonly the limbs. It results from poor drainage of the body’s lymphatic system. There are a number of causes of lymphoedema, including cancer or its treatment. Lymphoedema can result in the development of severely swollen and grossly distorted limbs, toughening of the skin and tissues and leakage of lymph fluid through the skin. Complications include episodes of cellulitis, which can result in repeated admissions to hospital.

Nina Linnitt, chair of British Lymphology Society, said: ‘Lymphoedema can impact on mobility, ability to work, body image and self-esteem, causing considerable physical and emotional distress. However, it can be managed effectively by recognising symptoms early, securing early diagnosis, referral and treatment, promotion of self management, and adherence to a long-term, integrated care plan.’

Lindsay Summerhill, from Cramlington in Northumberland, reciueves care and support from her local lymphoedema service, St Oswald’s Hospice in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne.

‘St Oswald’s is a saviour to me,’ she said. ‘If it wasn’t for the lymphoedema clinic, I dread to think what my legs would look like now. The staff have given me invaluable support and an outstanding service since I have been attending the clinic.’  

  • The British Lymphology Society has advice and guidance for both the public and health care professionals on their website: www.thebls.com.
  • The Lymphoedema Support Network is also available to offer support and advice to people living with lymphoedema: www.lymphoedema.org 
 


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