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Full-body exercise and decongestive therapy minimize lymphedema symptoms

October 26, 2012

Lymphedema is a disease that nearly 40 percent of breast cancer survivors are suffering from, and because a cure does not exist, symptoms must be managed with other therapies. Full-body exercise and complete decongestive therapy (CDT) have been proven to be most successful practices for minimizing those symptoms and encourage a more regular life style for patients. Researchers have determined these practices as most effective based on published research about the disease.

Story by MU News Bureau

Nearly 40 percent of breast cancer survivors suffer from lymphedema, a chronic condition that causes body limbs to swell from fluid buildup, as a result of lymph node removal and radiation therapy. A cure for lymphedema does not exist, so individuals with the condition must find ways to manage the symptoms throughout their lifetimes. Now, a team of researchers and clinicians working with a University of Missouri lymphedema expert has found that full-body exercise and complete decongestive therapy (CDT) are the best ways for patients to minimize their symptoms and maintain their quality of life.

“There’s a sense of empowerment—of autonomy—that comes from meeting the challenge of living with lymphedema,” said Jane Armer, an MU nursing professor. “Some breast cancer survivors say that they’ve become a new person after cancer because they met a challenge, and they like the stronger person they’ve become. The challenge of lymphedema is similar. It’s something that is pervasive in every part of life. It takes problem solving and persistence to manage the condition without letting it interfere with their goals.” More…