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01865 307750

Why screen for lymphoedema?

We know that some medical cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy mean that people are at high risk of developing lymphoedema. The risk can be as high as 40% after some treatments. We also know that early supermicrosurgery can prevent the appearance of lymphoedema, meaning that the problems associated with lymphoedema can be avoided. Early management can prevent progression and irreversible changes, such as fibrosis and fat hypertrophy. However, not everyone who has high risk cancer treatments to lymph nodes will go on to get lymphoedema. We wish to avoid unnecessary surgery, so treating everyone to prevent lymphoedema is not the answer.

What is the Oxford lymphoedema screening programme?

At the Oxford Lymphoedema Practice we offer the UK’s first ICG lymphography lymphoedema screening programme. We will offer you an appointment three months after completion of your cancer treatment for an initial consultation and ICG lymphography scan. If the scan is normal, we will then repeat the scan at six, nine and 12 months after completion of your cancer treatment. Further scans are performed at three monthly intervals for a further two years to ensure that lymphoedema is detected before you are aware that the symptoms, such as swelling of the limb, have even started. If early signs of lymphoedema are seen on the ICG lymphography, you will be given the opportunity to discuss supermicrosurgery for the prevention of lymphoedema with one of our experienced surgeons. Early surgery can catch lymphoedema before the debilitating swelling of the limb has even started. Using this innovative screening program we aim to completely prevent lymphoedema following cancer treatment.

Does supermicrosurgery work in the prevention and treatment of lymphoedema?

Yes, supermicrosurgery is effective at preventing lymphoedema in those at high risk of developing it, and is also an effective treatment for established lymphoedema.

In the treatment of longstanding advanced lymphoedema, over 85% of our patients show improvements in their lymphoedema. In ladies undergoing removal of the lymph nodes in their armpit (axillary dissection) for treatment of breast cancer, just 4% of those undergoing supermicrosurgery subsequently developed lymphoedema, compared to 30% of those not having super microsurgery. Supermicrosurgery has also been shown to be effective in reducing the frequency of infection (cellulitis) in the affected area.

Unlike previous surgical treatments that carry significant  risk and complications, modern supermicrosurgical techniques – though technically demanding – are minimally invasive, have very low complication rates, and have been shown in our hands and in numerous studies to be highly effective.

Meet the Consultants

Professor Dominic Furniss

DM(Oxon), MA(Cantab), MBBCh(Oxon), FRCS(Plast)

Specialty Plastic Surgery

"Since we introduced lymphatic supermicrosurgery into the UK, we have demonstrated excellent long term results."

Mr Alex Ramsden

MB ChB, MD, FRCS (Plast)

Specialty Plastic Surgery

"Our screening programme has the potential to prevent suffering for the thousands of cancer victims that will go on to develop lymphoedema."

For more information please call 01865 307750 and we will be very happy to answer your questions about the screening programme, ICG Lymphography, surgery or indeed any aspect of your care.