Lymphoedema Center Has Been Opened
Lymphoedema is a problem that every cancer patient may face, but many patients are left alone in the fight and are unable to reach the correct treatment. However, as there is a risk of recurrence, patient education is of utmost importance as well as the effective treatment of the disease. In this direction, Acıbadem University Atakent Hospital Lymphoma Center, has been established to treat lymphoedema, to work on prevention and to raise awareness, the center started its service with an organization.
Lymphoedema, which occurs mostly in patients with cancer treatment and congenital lymphatic insufficiency, affects about 15 to 40 percent of cancer patients. Although it is a chronic and progressive condition, it is possible for the patient to live a normal and active life by being careful about certain basic rules and good care. However, the main problem with living with lymphedema starts here. Because, when patients encounter this problem after cancer treatment, they are having difficulty in reaching the right treatment and even being left alone...
In order to make a social contribution to this situation, Atakent Hospital of Acıbadem University opened the "Lymphoedema Center" to collect their studies on lymphoedema they conduct for a long time under a single roof and to be an address that can be reached by patients, on 6th of March, Lymphoedema Awareness Day. Patients and their relatives and health professionals came together in the organization, which was supported by "Pembe İzler Society", which was has been working in the field of women's cancers.
In order to raise awareness about the fact that Lymphoedema is a preventable and treatable disease and to show that it is possible to relive the bodies which are tired enough from their burdens; there was an interview entitled "Prevention and treatment are both possible", conducted by writer and presenter İclal Aydın. Acıbadem Atakent Hospital General Surgery Specialist Dr. Cihan Uras and Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Specialist Vildan Cerci participated in the interview as a speaker and the patients also conveyed their experiences.
In the opening speech of the organization, Iclal Aydin, who stated that she was very happy to be in such an organization and to take part in the opening of the Lymphoedema Center which will add value to human life, said: "When I first had the invitation for this organization, I got detailed information about lymph edema, and I realized that it was a problem that could affect people's lives. There are so many things that patients need to pay attention from their clothing preferences to their weight. So I understand how much information provided to patients will make a difference in their lives. I will be very happy if I achieve to make even a small contribution to this issue." Aydın, who entertained her guests with her personal experiences about life, also visited the stand of the Pembe İzler Society.
The risk continues for a life time
Professor Dr. Cihan Uras stated that it is a very important problem to prevent lymphedema problem. "It is such a problem that sometimes patients can forget their cancer," he says. However, although it is possible to prevent the problem from occurring, he says that treatment is much more difficult once it happens.
Underlining that the risk of developing lymphedema is lifetime for every patient who has undergone surgery for lymph nodes, Dr. Cihan Uras said "Nevertheless, high-risk patients should not forget that there are necessary things to be done after the surgery to be protected from lymphedema. We also started the Lymphoedema Center linked with the Breast Surgery Department for a more comprehensive and serious approach to lymphedema awareness and treatment in our country. Here, we can treat both old lymphedema patients effectively, and we can detect the patients who are at high risk for lymphedema and apply preventive programs for them.”
Professor Dr. Cihan Uras emphasizes the importance of correct treatment and correct approach in his speech and says "For this reason, it is very important to fulfill the requirements of the name 'lymph edema center'. So, unless there are a strong team and infrastructure, it is difficult for the center to achieve success. I also want to emphasize that our center has a strong infrastructure in this sense."
The risk decreases with new surgical approaches.
Prof. Dr. Cihan Uras from General Surgery Department who said that the lymph edema is the most common after breast cancer treatment, pointed out that in these patients, lymph edema may develop on the operated side after the removal of the lymph nodes and following radiotherapy applications. Prof. Dr. Cihan Uras also stated that in order to prevent this problem and reduce the risk; we prefer approaches with there is no need for lymph node removal in last few years and he said "We use special techniques for this, to remove the lymph nodes from the tumor we use chemotherapy, we are trying to protect the lymphatic system during surgery. But lymphedema is a progressive process. These patients must be educated in the lymph edema school for a good life quality. "
“This will be a very extensive education and research center”
At the Lymphoedema Center, in addition to educate and train the patients who had cancer surgery and treatment and to raise awareness to prevent lymph edema; serious scientific studies are planned to be held to detect congenital lymphedema cases early other than cancer; to prevent leg edema that may occur after genital and prostate cancers other than breast cancer. Stating that organizations for health professionals were also planned to explain that 'lymphoedema is a controllable condition when treated correctly', Dr. Vildan Çerçi said that she believed that the center would be a pioneer on lymphedema in this direction.
Prevention is the best treatment.
People who have had any surgical treatment or radiotherapy affecting the lymph nodes and their pathways, such as removal of the whole or part of the breast, partial or complete removal of the axillary lymph nodes, lower abdominal region surgery, removal of the lymph nodes in the inguinal region, and radiotherapy application to all these zones, are at risk of lymphedema. Dr. Vildan Çerçi reminds that this is a risk that will last for life: "Therefore, it is very important to inform the patient about the risks before surgery. Because the patient needs to know that it is possible to reduce these risks to the minimum and to lead a life without the lymphedema. Unfortunately, patients are still not adequately informed about this situation. It just does not mean 'pay attention to your arm'. One of the most important reasons for this is the inability to fully realize how badly the life of the lymphedema patient is affected" she says. Therefore, the center's main goal is not only to treat the existing lymphedema effectively, but also to work on prevention and increase its awareness.
Support to Pembe İzler Society with handmade products
A social responsibility project was also organized in the organization where the patient and patient relatives and health professionals participated, as well as the Pembe İzler Society, which draws attention with their social responsibility, works on breast cancer. Hand labor products prepared by oncology patients and oncology nurses and a lymph edema team were offered for sale for the benefit of the Pembe İzler Society.
What do lymphedema patients say?
Gülden Eruzun: The problem was resolved shortly with proper treatment.
“ In the past years, my mother and older sister had breast cancer. Although I knew that I was in a risky group for this reason, unfortunately I was neglecting my controls. During the controls in 2016, when I was 64 years old, I was actually opposed to the unwanted but expected diagnosis. The tumor was detected in my left breast and I was operated immediately. Fortunately, the tumor was not aggressive and was still at the first stage. Lymph glands were also removed with the diseased area. I received 33 sessions of radiotherapy after the surgery. After that, routine checks began. But after about 9 months of surgery, I began to feel that my breast was getting harder and harder. Since te swelling increased on my arm also, my oncolog directed me to a specialist doctor, saying that I had lymphedema and I should be treated for this reason. We started treatment in the last December. After 15 sessions of physical therapy, the swelling in my arm decreased. I also learned massages and exercises that I had to do on my own. I'm currently using bandages and also continuing to do exercises.”
Lale Gürman: The challenging years of searching for solutions.
“About 15 years ago, a benign tumor in my uterine was extracted with a surgery. 5-6 years after the surgery went without any problems. But then the swelling that started in my left foot affected my life very seriously. I applied to many centers and different specialists. At the end of the evaluations, lymphedema was diagnosed. But they told me there was no solution to the problem. In the following period, I did everything I heard to stop the swelling and to resolve my complaints, by wetting by leg with the gaulard’s water in pharmacy, spending time in massage rooms, applying pressure machine treatment and lymphedema message with a masseur at home. But I did not get any result except short-term improvements, until I met with my doctor. I had incredible changes and improvements in my leg with the treatment I started about 4 years ago. Moreover, I learned a lot about this subject. I owe a depth gratitude to him. ”