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The service offers specialist advice, support and management for cancer related lymphoedema and for those with complex oedema at end of life. It is a nurse and therapist run service and operates across Hertfordshire.

Lymphoedema is a swelling that develops as a result of an impaired lymphatic system. It can affect any part of the body but is most commonly seen in an arm or a leg.

Although lymphoedema cannot be cured, it can be controlled and often improved. Early intervention and referral can help achieve better long-term outcomes.

The role of the Lymphatic system

The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and lymph nodes that help drain lymph fluid and plays an important role in supporting your body’s immune system. Damage to the lymphatic’s can cause swelling and an increased risk of infection (cellulitis).

The lymphatic’s form part of your immune system, helping to deal with infection at a local level but just as importantly, they are responsible for cleansing your tissues and maintaining a balance of fluids in your body.

How does Lymphoedema occur?

If, for whatever reason, the lymphatic system is not working correctly, or the vessels are not draining adequately, the fluid in the tissues builds up. Swelling occurs when the amount of fluid in an area, is greater than the capacity of the lymphatic system to transport it away.

Lymphoedema can, therefore, be defined as 'an abnormal accumulation of protein rich fluid in the tissues'.

Lymphoedema Service information poster

Contact the service

All referrals must be sent to Queensway Health Clinic, Hatfield, Herts, AL10 0LF

The service is provided by a specialist lymphoedema nurse or physiotherapist, in a health clinic, community hospital, hospice, nursing or residential home or in the patient's own home. Treatment is provided based on best practice and national guidelines.

The service operates Monday to Friday between the hours of 8am to 5pm. It does not operate on bank holidays.

  • Patients who have lymphoedema as a result of cancer or its treatment
  • Patients who have complex oedema resulting from advancing malignancy and organ failure at end of life
  • Patients who are at risk of developing lymphoedema and require preventive advice and management
  • Healthcare professionals requesting education and advice in all aspects of cancer related lymphoedema
  • Patients must be registered with a Hertfordshire GP

A full holistic assessment is performed and will consider your physical, psychological, social and occupational wellbeing.

An individual care plan will formulated with you depending on your specific needs.

Assessment and management is guided by best practice guidelines and patient preference.

Treatments for lymphoedema focus on the four cornerstones of care:

  • skincare
  • compression garments (stockings and arm sleeves)
  • Lymphatic bandaging
  • Manual lymphatic Drainage (MLD) and Simple Lymphatic Drainage (SLD) self-massage
  • Lymphatic Specific Exercises

It can be helpful for anyone who helps you with your care to attend the appointment with you.

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