Six new machines for early detection of lymphoedema

The NZBCF is pleased to announce that, during August, we are donating 6 L-Dex bio-impedance machines to hospitals all over New Zealand.

These add to the 5 other L-Dex machines that we’ve funded in the past, and are going to Auckland DHB, Waitemata DHB, Tauranga Hospital, Whakatane Hospital, Mid Central DHB and Southland Hospital.

L-Dex machines are a great tool for early detection and management of lymphoedema.

Most women who have breast surgery will have some lymph nodes removed from the armpit. This is an important part of the surgery – the presence or absence of cancer cells in these nodes indicates whether the cancer has spread. But it also damages the lymphatic system, so that lymph fluid can’t drain as well as it should. Many women also have radiation to that area, which can further damage the lymphatic system.

This means that breast surgery patients can end up with a swollen arm or chest on the same side as the surgery, caused by a build-up of lymph fluid.

L-Dex machines use bio-impedance to measure the volume of lymph fluid in the affected arm. This way, lymphoedema can be detected before the patient notices any changes. It’s a simple, painless procedure that all patients at risk of lymphoedema could benefit from.

Detecting lymphoedema early allows women to have treatment and physiotherapy to prevent the swelling from getting worse. If lymphoedema isn’t detected and managed well in the early stages, it can set in for life.

As well as monitoring for signs of lymphoedema, L-Dex machines can be used to track whether treatments are working.

Sharyn Heath, a clinical leader from Timaru Hospital, notes another plus of using L-Dex machines. As well as being great for diagnosis and tracking treatments, “it’s a great resource for giving patients added confidence when they don’t have signs of lymphoedema.”

Advances in early detection and treatment mean that more women are living with breast cancer, and are at risk of side-effects like lymphoedema. It’s important that these women are supported, even after they’ve finished their treatment.

We’d like to say a big thank you everyone who supports the NZBCF; your donations make initiatives like this possible.

Find out more about lymphoedema.