Vim & Vigor - Fall 2017 - Community Healthcare - 13

as fluid accumulation can be off-putting
to partners; and even simple acts like
choosing clothing, which doesn't fit
properly because of disfiguration from
the condition. Infection is a constant
cause of concern, because the decreased
flow of lymphatic fluid also compromises
the immune system.
The condition prevents people from
working and socializing and keeps
them in constant pain, Repicci says.

Common BUT
UNKNOWN

Lymphedema sufferers number
between 5 million and 10 million in
the United States, Rockson says.
The condition affects more people
than multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's
disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,
or ALS), AIDS and Parkinson's disease
combined, but it is largely unknown
among the public, Repicci says.
"How could we have a disease that
affects up to 10 million people in this
country and yet has such a wall of
silence around it?" he asks. "Even people who have it are unaware of the disease they have," because receiving an
accurate diagnosis can be challenging.
Rockson says the disease is overlooked for several reasons. First,
the condition is generally not lifethreatening, and it often appears in
the context of a life-threatening disease such as cancer.
"It can have a tendency to be underrecognized because, in the mind of the
clinician, it becomes more background
noise," he says.
He cited the reluctance of doctors and cancer surgeons to recognize lymphedema as a complication
of cancer treatment because it seems
like an implicit criticism of the treatment itself.
Finally, and importantly, the
condition "historically hasn't had
what I call 21st-century treatments,"
Rockson says. Available treatments
are effective, but they are not as

simple as going to the pharmacy and
picking up a prescription.

Recovery and
PREVENTION

Most of the available treatments are
physical ones, such as massage to move
fluid from the tissues, compression
techniques to further mobilize the fluid,
and laser-based therapies.
"All are designed to physically stimulate the lymphatic system to be more
active," Rockson says.
People who have been treated for cancer can be monitored and tested during
the first year after treatment to detect
early signs of lymphedema and possibly
prevent the condition. If compression
therapy is used at the optimal time, the
condition can be prevented or reversed.

Telling THE WORLD

Sometimes doctors are unable to diagnose lymphedema because they receive
little training related to the condition
during medical school, Repicci says.
LE&RN is pressing for physician certification programs and training related
to lymphedema.
Bates wants to help LE&RN raise
money for research. In an interview with
the organization, she said her dream was
to go to Congress "and have a chamber
full of people who are suffering from
lymphedema stand up in front of that
committee and say, 'We have lymphedema. We are suffering. Please help us.'"
When that happens, Bates said,
"I want to be there with them to add
my name." ■

FAMILY TREE
MAY HOLD
THE KEY
Community Healthcare System's High
Risk Breast Clinics are helping women
understand and manage the risk for
developing breast cancer. Although
most breast cancers occur in women
who do not have a strong family
history, about 10 percent are traced
to a genetic predisposition for the
disease. Patients with a significant
family history of breast cancer may
benefit from a more specific method
of estimating breast cancer probability called BRACAnalysis®, available
through a medical geneticist at the
clinics in Munster, East Chicago,
Hobart and Valparaiso.
"Genetic testing may help some
women learn whether or not they
have an increased likelihood of developing breast cancer," says Janice
Zunich, MD, a medical geneticist affiliated with the High Risk Breast Clinics.
Other factors that can increase a
woman's risk of developing breast
cancer include increasing age, certain
breast changes, early onset of menstrual periods, late onset of menopause, having no children or having a
first pregnancy after age 30.
Clinic services include clinical
breast exams, breast self-exam education and breast cancer risk, screening
tests, a personalized surveillance
plan and prevention strategies. Clinic
staff also help coordinate scheduling
and pre-authorization of diagnostic
imaging studies and provide referrals
to resources and support, such as
genetic or psychological counseling,
nutrition experts and research studies.

WEBSITE

Are You At Risk?
Find out more about Community Healthcare System's High Risk Breast
Clinics at www.comhs.org.

FALL 2017

13


http://www.comhs.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Fall 2017 - Community Healthcare

Contents
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2017 - Community Healthcare - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2017 - Community Healthcare - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2017 - Community Healthcare - Contents
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Vim & Vigor - Fall 2017 - Community Healthcare - Cover3
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http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/manifest/pkdlife_2020winter
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