One side effect of cancer treatment that patients may experience is lymphedema. Lymphedema is the swelling that sometimes occurs because of lymph node removal or radiation treatment.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center provides services and treatment options for lymphedema that current patients are encouraged to take advantage of, including:
- An experienced team of physical therapists who are all Certified Lymphedema Therapists (CLTs). Their role in treating lymphedema is twofold. First, for patients at risk of lymphedema, our therapists will provide education on signs/symptoms of lymphedema, how to reduce the risk of developing lymphedema and instruction in self lymphatic massage. And second, for patients who have lymphedema, our therapists will instruct on how to best reduce and better manage the swelling.
- Shine, a specialty gift and oncology services store located at South Lake Union House (formerly SCCA House) that specializes in compression garments for lymphedema.
- New surgical options that may help to prevent lymphedema or make the most serious lymphedema symptoms easier to manage.
Patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and come to Fred Hutch’s multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Specialty Center have baseline arm circumferential measurements taken prior to treatment to better assess for any early signs of lymphedema. They are then followed routinely for the first two years after surgery.
If you’re a current patient and would like to learn more about lymphedema treatment at Fred Hutch, talk to your care team about a referral.
Fred Hutch’s Physical Therapy department is located on the 4th floor of the South Lake Union Clinic and is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Lymphedema can occur to anyone undergoing a surgical lymph node biopsy or radiation therapy. Lymphedema is a swelling (edema) that can occur anywhere in the body including the breast, trunk, arms, legs, as well as head and neck. For patients undergoing breast cancer treatment, the areas affected are generally the arm, breast or chest wall.
At Fred Hutch, Physical Therapists work as part of the care team with a patient's doctors, nurses and other specialists. Patients who have secondary lymphedema can be seen at the Fred Hutch clinic by one of our Certified Lymphedema Therapists.
Patients who have been treated at Fred Hutch can be seen in the physical therapy department by one of our Certified Lymphedema Specialists, who are trained in teaching patients how to prevent or manage lymphedema. Our reconstructive surgeons also have advanced methods to prevent lymphedema and to treat it after it starts.