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NHO Begins New Lymphedema Prevention Program

Nebraska Hematology-Oncology (NHO) recently announced an innovative new program to reduce the impact of secondary lymphedema in cancer patients and survivors. The new program will include at-risk cancer patients, including patients with breast cancer, melanoma, and pelvic area cancers, across the system’s entire healthcare network.

“At Nebraska Hematology-Oncology we continually strive to provide the best possible care for our cancer patients,” said Amy King, Chief Executive Officer at NHO. “For us this means both delivering excellent care to our patients during treatment and after they have completed treatment. Cancer survivorship is growing rapidly as a result of improved treatments and we are proud to be the first cancer center in our region to offer lymphedema prevention as a service to our patients.”

Lymphedema is a leading post-treatment complication for many cancer patients that costs the U.S. healthcare system an estimated $7 billion every year. Patients who undergo surgical, radiation, or certain chemotherapy treatments for breast, melanoma, or pelvic area cancers may have damage to the lymphatic drainage system in one or more limbs. Lymphedema is characterized by build-up of lymphatic fluid that causes painful and sometimes debilitating tightness and swelling in an effected limb. There are 1.9 million newly diagnosed cancer patients every year in the U.S. and 58% are at risk of developing limb lymphedema. It is estimated that one in three at-risk cancer patients will develop lymphedema. Previously cancer survivors were not routinely monitored, but now there is new technology to aid in the early detection of lymphedema.

The new lymphedema prevention program utilizes the latest lymphedema detection technology called L-Dex. L-Dex is a measurement of fluid buildup in an at-risk limb compared to a healthy limb. It is measured on the SOZO® device, which uses a sophisticated technology called bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS). The SOZO test is non-invasive, takes less than 30 seconds to complete, and provides results immediately after the test. At-risk patients receive a baseline measurement and then are measured regularly after cancer treatment. An L-Dex increase of 6.5 or more from baseline is an indication that lymphedema is developing and intervention is needed. Recently published data from the largest randomized trial to assess lymphedema prevention, the PREVENT trial, showed that early detection using L-Dex combined with intervention can stop 92% of patients from progressing to chronic lymphedema through three years.

Patients wishing to learn more about NHO’s Lymphedema Prevention Program should talk to their doctors or call NHO for more information.