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 month carefully curated to keep you in the lymphie loop.
“A spotlight on the lymphatic system”
Each year, the European Society for Lymphology holds a congress where professionals present and debate new research and knowledge around the topic of lymphatic disorders.
The meetings touch on conservative treatment for lymphatic disorders, surgery and micro-surgery in lymphatic insufficiency, complications in lymphedema, and the quality of life issues that patients with lymphedema can be faced with. This year’s conference will have a focus on near infrared fluorescence imaging of lymph nodes and cancers.
“How A 6-Year-Old Helped Get Funding For Lymphedema Research”
Lymphedema advocate Emma Detlefsen was recently on the Dr. Phil Show alongside Dr. Stanley Rockson and LE&RN spokesperson Kathy Bates to talk about lymphedema and the need for research. Check out a clip from the segment below!
“Can Men Get Lymphedema After Cancer Treatment?”
Awareness of lymphedema is growing, particularly as it affects women after breast cancer treatment. However, men can get lymphedema, too, and the condition wreaks physical and emotional distress for men and women alike.
Recognition is getting better, patient Fred Peltz notes, but it’s still not mainstream: “‘Be your own advocate,’ is what we say, because no one is going to advocate for you.”
“CUTV News Radio spotlights Elisa DiFalco of the MLD Institute”
Elisa DiFalco, a Certified Manual Lymphatic Drainage Specialist and founder of MLD Institute International, was recently featured on Blog Talk Radio to discuss lymphatic drainage.
“Ten years ago, lymphatic drainage was strictly for people recovering from lymphatic cancer, but we’ve evolved,” says DiFalco. “As far as lymphatics is concerned, this the greatest discovery we’ve had in at least the past century and it’s going to be a game-changer for all degenerative brain diseases: Alzheimer’s, MS, Parkinson’s and on and on. We’re probably going to be on a wave of discovery now through the next ten years at least.”
“A do-it-yourself genetic test for lymphedema risk after breast cancer”
Could a simple genetic test tell us which women will develop lymphedema after breast cancer treatment? No genetic test for lymphedema currently exists, but could we DIY (‘do-it-yourself’) one? Ryan Davey, PhD, explores the possibilities.
Lymphatic filariasis news
Lymphatic filariasis (commonly known as elephantiasis) is a neglected tropical disease caused by parasitic infection to the lymphatic system. It is the leading cause of lymphedema worldwide: of the over 120 million people infected, 40 million are incapacitated or disfigured by the disease.
“New anti-Wolbachia drug could potentially treat onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis”
Researchers from LSTM and the University of Liverpool have developed the first synthetic drug specifically developed to target the Wolbachia bacteria:
“Over 157 million people globally are affected by onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis,” says LSTM’s Deputy Director, Professor Steve Ward. “This particular molecule has the potential to shorten that timescale of treatments from weeks to days which could significantly impact the international timetable for the elimination of these two neglected tropical diseases.”
“Swwapnil Joshi is brand ambassador for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis”
Popular Indian actor Swapnil Joshi has become an ambassador for the elimination of lymphatic filariasis (locally known as hatti rog) in the Indian state of Maharashtra:
“The time has come to make this ancient scourge history. And I am honoured to be able to contribute to this cause,” says Joshi. “Hatti Rog is an entirely preventable disease. I hope to play my part in changing the situation by encouraging people to have the government-administered medicines.”
“Elimination of lymphatic filariasis in South East Asia”
The World Health Organization launched the global program to eliminate lymphatic filariasis in 2000. Since then, the number of cases of filarial-induced lymphedema has declined by 23% to 16.7 million.
Expanding treatment options alongside ensuring high coverage of mass drug administration can accelerate progress in elimination of lymphatic filariasis, says head of filarial clinical programme Sabine Specht and colleagues. Success will depend on more than monetary investment, however: political will, continued public engagement, and community ownership will be critical going forward.
- Lymphie Craig Davidson shares his lymphedema story. “For 13 years doctors diagnosed me with every other possible thing, it was a case of ticking boxes until they diagnosed me correctly […] I’ll never know if an earlier diagnosis would’ve made a difference. That will play on my mind until the day I pop my clogs.” [Kent Online]
- A women’s physical therapy center in North Carolina has expanded its services to include men and children. “What we found is we were getting a lot of referrals for men despite the fact that it says Physical Therapy for Women,” says Jennifer Whaley Shepherd, physical therapist and founder of Physical Therapy for Women, Lymphedema and Pelvic Rehab Center. [Wilma Magazine]
- As part of its Saving Life 2019 campaign, Cancer Council NSW community advocates aim to let local candidates know what they can do, if elected at the upcoming state election, to reduce the impact of cancer in the community. One of their election priorities is to provide funding for public lymphedema services across New South Wales, Australia, to ensure that people with lymphedema have timely access to evidence-based care, regardless of where they live. [Bega District News]
- Lymphatic filariasis is wreaking havoc on India’s farming community. “The farmer community is responsible for the agricultural growth of [India], which also impacts the national GDP. But they will not be in a position to give their best if they suffer from a disease like lymphatic filariasis, that is actually the second largest disability causing disease in the world.” [The Health Site]
- Fitness champion and occupational therapist Dr. Tracy Bender is a passionate advocate for lymphedema patients, speaking at local and national events: “It’s hard to get people to support this when they don’t understand it,” she said. [Lincoln Journal Star]
- Judy Harrison saw a need to become an educator and healer, making a decision more than a decade ago to be a certified lymphedema therapist. “My deepest desire for individuals and their families is to know what is going on and how to manage it,” says Harrison. [Dayton Daily News]
- New health laws in Maryland will require insurers to provide benefits for patients with certain health conditions, including lymphedema. Thank you to local advocacy groups like FLUID Maryland and the LE&RN Maryland Chapter for their hard work in getting this legislation passed, and to Governor Larry Hogan for signing HB 847 into law! [Herald Mail Media]