Photo supplied by Telehealth Services Queensland.

Central West residents affected by lymphoedema can have access to regular group education
sessions by telehealth wherever they live in the region.

Central West Hospital and Health Service Occupational Therapist Georgia McCullagh said the
hour-long sessions would be held on a quarterly schedule if there was sufficient interest.

“We have already held one session this year as part of a trial to gauge interest within the
community,’’ she said.

“The next session will be on 29 September from 10 am to 11 am and can be accessed by
telehealth at any health facility in the region.’’

Ms McCullagh said lymphoedema was characterised by the swelling of one or more parts of the
body, caused by problems with the lymphatic system.

“It can affect up to 20 per cent of women after breast cancer treatment, and also has an
increased risk of developing after melanoma, head and neck, testicular and gynaecological
cancer treatment,’’ she said.

“Another common cause of lymphoedema is damage to the lymphatic system after a bad attack
of cellulitis, which is a bacterial infection of the skin.

“This can then create a vicious cycle of lymphoedema creating the environment for cellulitis to
occur and cellulitis further damaging the lymphatic system.’’

Ms McCullagh said lymphoedema was a lifelong condition.

“In people who have had cancer, it can start many years after their cancer treatment,’’ she said.

“While a person is undergoing intensive cancer treatment, it can be hard to take in all of the
information provided at the treating hospital as so much is going on at once.

“By trialling group education sessions here in the Central West, the aim is to provide information
which individuals and their support persons can access now that they are back in a familiar,
more relaxed setting.

“The sessions can also provide an opportunity to link in with local support within the Central
West and meet other individuals who might have shared experiences.

“In this upcoming education session on 29 September, we will discuss what individuals can do
to prevent lymphoedema after cancer treatment.

“The session is free to attend and is open to anyone wishing to learn more about the condition.’’

Ms McCullagh said any part of the body could be affected by lymphoedema.

The location depends on where the lymphatic system has been damaged by surgery or
radiation treatment.

Ms McCullagh said treatment for lymphoedema varied depending on the severity of an
individual’s condition.

“The most common treatments for lymphoedema are a combination of manual lymphatic
massage, compression garments or compression bandaging,’’ she said.

“By making simple lifestyle changes before you notice any swelling, you can reduce your
chance of developing lymphoedema and may avoid the need for more intensive treatment.”

• For further information about the lymphoedema education sessions or to register,
call Georgia McCullagh on 4658 4721.