Call CPMC's Outpatient Rehabilitation at 415-600-3395 to schedule an appointment for Lymphedema Therapy. Call the Breast Health Nurse Educator at 415-600-6281 for more information about lymphedema education and support.
Lymphedema is a swelling of an area in the body resulting from an accumulation of lymph fluid. In cancer patients, lymphedema usually results from surgery involving removal of or damage to the lymph nodes.
Who can benefit from lymphedema therapy?
Lymphedema can frequently involve patients who have had surgery for breast, uterine, or prostate cancer and can occur after lymph node radiation treatments. Lymphedema therapy can manage the fluid accumulation by reducing swelling and reducing the risk of infection. Since lymphocytes, immune system cells vital in fighting bacteria, cannot circulate normally, affected limbs become more susceptible to infection. Lymphedema therapy is effective, painless, non-invasive manual lymph drainage and consists of a combination of techniques called Complete Decongestive Physiotherapy (CDP).
Complete Decongestive Physiotherapy (CDP)
CDP utilizes four components of treatment:
- Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD): MLD, performed by a trained lymphatic therapist, is a gentle manual treatment that improves the activity of the lymph vessels and re-routs the lymph flow around the blocked areas into more centrally located lymph vessels that drain into the venous system.
- Compression Therapy (CPT): CPT increases tissue pressure and is applied between treatments to prevent recurrent accumulation of lymph fluid. In phase I of the treatment, compression is applied by compression bandages. In phase II, compression is applied by compression garments the patient must wear every day.
- Breathing and Remedial Exercises: Remedial exercises performed while wearing the compression bandage or garments, as well as respiration therapy, aid the lymphokinetic effects of the joint and muscle pumps.
- Skin Care: Since infections are a very common and serious complication of lymphedema, each patient is taught meticulous skin and nail care. Therapy cannot proceed until all infections, bacterial or fungal, are under control.
Bryan Hemming Cancer Care Center
California Pacific Medical Center
Comprehensive Cancer Services at California Pacific Medical Center’s Bryan Hemming Cancer Care Center in San Francisco. CPMC features some of the top-rated cancer physicians and best cancer surgeons in the San Francisco Bay Area, Marin county and Northern California. We provide personalized patient care using some of the most successful cancer treatment options available.