BC Lymphedema Association
Lymphedema is the most underdiagnosed conditions in the world. More people have it than MS, Parkinson’s, ALS, Aids and muscular dystrophy combined. Worldwide, historical data estimates that 180-250 million people suffer from lymphedema; however, prevalence is often underestimated due to inconsistent clinical detection and definition, as well as inadequate disease tracking (ALNET).
In 2017, it was estimated that upwards of one million people have lymphedema or chronic edema in Canada (CLN). Lymphedema can be hereditary or acquired as a result of cancer treatment or physical trauma. Up to 30% of women who survive breast cancer will get this debilitating disease that results in the accumulation of lymph fluid in the limbs when the lymphatic system is damaged. Similarly, survivors of cervical, prostate, testicular, bladder, colon, and head and neck cancers and melanoma are all susceptible.
Our veterans suffer from this as a result of battle injury or trauma from surgery and our children are born with this disease. Currently, there is no cure and little help with essential daily compression garments or medical interventions from health insurance. The effects are lifelong, drastically affect quality of life and can lead to loss of limb function and even a shorten lifespan.
The Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN) is an International Organization that fights lymphedema and lymphatic diseases through education, research and advocacy. In Canada, the Canadian Lymphedema Network, a collaboration among health professionals, patients, researchers, and industries is working to raise awareness and promote improved treatment and diagnosis across Canada.
We need to bring attention to lymphatic diseases and lymphedema in our cities and province in hopes that new treatments will be discovered and so that we will one day have a cure. This all starts with public awareness.