APTA Responds to The Washington Post on Lymphedema

December 30, 2008

Dear Editor:

As president of the American Physical Therapy Association's (APTA) Section on Women's Health, I read with great interest your December 29 article ("Trying to prevent lymphedema after breast cancer") about the treatment of one of breast cancer's debilitating side effects, lymphedema.

Readers should know that physical therapists are frontline experts in the treatment and management of this painful and chronic condition. By use of compression garments, manual lymphatic drainage massage, or other treatment techniques, physical therapists are proven, effective, health care professionals for early diagnosis and treatment of lymphedema and its symptoms such as decreased limb function and disability due to build up of excessive lymph fluid.

A study published in the April 25, 2008, issue of the journal Cancer shows that pre-operative assessments of breast cancer patients by physical therapists allow for early diagnosis and successful treatment of lymphedema. The authors demonstrated that pre-operative limb volume measurement and interval post-operative follow-up can successfully detect and treat lymphedema.

We appreciate your efforts to educate the public on this important issue and their options to maximize recovery from diseases such as breast cancer.

Sincerely,

Wendy Featherstone, PT
President, Section on Women's Health
American Physical Therapy Association

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