There’s always something going on in the world of lymphedema and lymphatic research! It can be a lot to keep up with, so here’s a digest of some of the latest headlines from the past week carefully curated to keep you in the lymphie loop.
“Arm Lymphoscintigraphy After Axillary Lymph Node Dissection or Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy in Breast Cancer”
Despite advances in early detection techniques for breast cancer, examining the axillary lymph nodes remains a key component to deciding which treatment is appropriate: an axillary lymph node dissection (ALND), which is a more invasive treatment; or a sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB), which is less invasive.
Oftentimes, surgical injuries incurred during ALND can obstruct lymphatic flow and cause lymphedema to develop, whereas SLNB carries a reduced risk of lymphedema (although it hasn’t fully eliminated it).
In a recent cross-sectional study, researchers used lymphoscintigraphy to compare the lymphatic flow in the arm after ALND versus SLNB following breast cancer surgery. These were their findings:
Although no significant difference in total number of lymph nodes identified was seen, difference in distribution of lymph nodes between ALND and SLNB groups was significant. The researchers conclude that lymphatic damage occurred in the ALND group, and lymphatic flow from the axilla was redirected in early postoperative breast surgery.
(Quick note: I’m not medically trained and therefore sometimes struggle with heavy medical jargon — this is one of those times! I encourage those of you interested to check out the full study linked below, and to please let me know if I misinterpreted anything in my summary!)
“Award-Winning Actress and Advocate Kathy Bates and Panelists Call for Greater Investments and Collaboration in Medical Research”
During Research!America‘s 28th Annual Meeting of Members dinner on March 15th, a group of panelists reiterated the urgent need for greater investments and collaboration in medical research.
Rep. David McKinley (R-WV-01) spoke highly of the value of research programs, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) BRAIN initiative: “We know that the NIH supports over 400 thousand jobs across America. Every year NIH writes grants for $32 billion. That’s significant.”
Among the speakers was Kathy Bates, the award-winning actress and spokesperson for Lymphatic Education and Research Network. Living with lymphedema herself, Bates is an ardent advocate for lymphatic research and treatment, and was honored with the Isadore Rosenfeld Award for Impact on Public Opinion.
Watch her impassioned speech below, and listen for her acknowledgment of another incredible advocate: eight-year-old Emma Detlefsen and family!
“A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Important Signals are Emerging Amidst the Noise”
With the talk of proposed budget cuts threatening many important research agencies, Research!America president and CEO Mary Woolley stressed the importance of contacting your members of Congress in support of passing the FY17 omnibus bill.
What’s the FY17 omnibus bill? Glad you asked! Research!America explains it like this: Instead of passing an updated budget for Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) before 2016 ended, Congress passed a temporary stop-gap or continuing resolution (CR) that flat-funds government until April 28, 2017. Draft legislation (the FY17 omnibus bill) that would direct more funding to these priorities sits waiting for further congressional action, but unless enough of us weigh in, the new Congress is likely to ignore that legislation and simply extend flat-funding until the end of FY17. We must ask Congress to pass a real budget — one that invests more in priorities like public health preparedness and medical research.
The pending FY17 omnibus package includes a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Science Foundation, and the Food and Drug Administration — if the bill passes.
As for FY18, the President’s budget blueprint proposes deep cuts to the NIH and other research agencies. This is a little concerning as funding for medical and scientific research is all-too valuable, especially as Americans living with lymphedema. Please: support progress and contact Congress today!
THIS WEEK: Lymphedema Lobby Days
The Lymphedema Treatment Act (LTA) is a bill that aims to provide Medicare coverage of the doctor-prescribed compression supplies (like garments and bandages) that are so necessary for lymphedema treatment. Currently, Medicare doesn’t cover compression supplies because they don’t fit under any benefit category — a frustrating logistical loophole that creates a serious barrier to care for patients.
From March 16th through the 28th, a group of incredible lymphedema patients and advocates will be on the Hill meeting with congressional offices and lobbying for support of the Lymphedema Treatment Act.
I attended last year and it was an amazing experience, however you don’t need to attend the Lobby Days to promote the bill! Here’s some ways you can get involved:
- Email your Representative and Senators using this template letter
- Call your Representatives and Senators to make your voice heard
- Contact your members of Congress via social media with these sample tweets and posts
Best of luck to the advocates in D.C. this week, and a huge thank you for all your hard work!