Management of a patient with secondary lymphoedema
Denise Hardy Clinical nurse specialist lymphoedema, Kendal Lymphology Centre, Cumbria, and Lymphoedema Support Network nurse adviser
Denise Hardy emphasises the importance of patient education on the risks of post-operative complications and describes the use of a compression system to treat a woman who developed problems after surgery for gynaecological cancer
Women undergoing surgery and/or radiotherapy for treatment of gynaecological cancers are at risk of developing lower limb lymphoedema. However, unlike patients undergoing treatment for breast cancer, specific information and advice to reduce the risk of developing this condition is rarely discussed pre- or post-operatively. Moreover, referral for early and effective treatment to reduce the swelling is often left too late, further affecting the physical and psychological distress often seen after such cancer treatment. This article illustrates the significant effect that lower limb lymphoedema can have on quality of life after surgery for gynaecological carcinoma. It demonstrates the benefit of lymphoedema treatments, including the introduction of a new bandaging system to minimise distressing symptoms and urges early referral for assessment. The importance of patient education for those at risk is also stressed.
Cancer Nursing Practice. 11, 2,21-26. doi: 10.7748/cnp2012.03.11.2.21.c8987Correspondence
The author was involved in the randomised controlled trial for the two-layer bandage system discussed in the articlePeer review
This article has been subject to double blind peer review