Distressing condition highlighted during awareness month

March is Lymphoedema Awareness Month and Cancer Council Queensland is calling for increased understanding of the chronic disease that impacts more than 300,000 Australians every day.

Lymphoedema is a chronic swelling in the body due to an accumulation of lymphatic fluid which can result in loss of mobility, discomfort and pain, in people of all ages.

Conservative estimates* suggest at least 20 per cent of survivors from breast, gynaecological and prostate cancer, or melanoma will experience secondary lymphoedema.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said it was important to educate cancer patients about the early signs and symptoms of lymphoedema and for people impacted by the chronic condition to feel supported.

“Lymphoedema Awareness Month is an important time to encourage empathy and a deeper understanding of the impact of the disorder and talk about the importance of managing the condition,” Ms Clift said.

“Lymphoedema is an incurable condition which can often be debilitating and distressing, particularly if left undiagnosed or mismanaged.

“We aim to educate those most at risk about the early signs and symptoms so they can seek early diagnosis and treatment to minimise the impact the disorder has on their physical and emotional wellbeing.

“With the right care, lymphoedema can be successfully managed to minimise the effects on patients.”

This month, Cancer Council Queensland hosted a number of awareness events designed to support and inform people touched by lymphoedema, including patients, carers, friends, family, generalist health professionals, lymphoedema therapists and interested members of the community.

Lymphoedema can develop if lymph nodes have been removed by surgery, damaged by radiotherapy during treatment for cancer or if a cancer is blocking them.

It can also develop due to changes in the lymphatic system, as a result of injury or infection.

Early lymphoedema signs and symptoms can be intermittent and include transient swelling of a limb or other region of the body, aches, stiffness, limitation of movement, tightness or temperature changes in the body, or swelling that is aggravated by heat, overuse or prolonged inactivity.

For more information or support, Queenslanders are invited to call Cancer Council’s 13 11 20 or visit www.cancerqld.org.au.

Cancer Council Queensland is an independent, community-based charity. The achievements of Cancer Council Queensland are made possible by the generosity of Queenslanders.

For interviews, please contact:

Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland

P. (07) 364 5372 M. 0409 001 171

For more information, please contact:

Eliarne Iezzi, Senior Media Advisor, Cancer Council Queensland

P. (07) 3634 5153

*Australian Government Cancer Australia. (2013). Lymphoedema. Retrieved from Cancer Australia