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Lymphoedema Management in Palliative and end-of-life care
  1. Catherine Kreckeler, Staff Nurse
  1. Inpatient Unit, St Christopher’s Hospice, London. Email: c.kreckeler{at}stchristophers.org.uk

Abstract

Lymphoedema is a progressive, chronic condition that can have profound adverse effects on the physical and psychosocial wellbeing of sufferers. It tends to be ineffectively managed in palliative care clinical settings and the condition often goes unrecognised and untreated. Multi-layer, compression, decongestive therapy remains one of the cornerstones of lymphoedema management. However, minimal research has been conducted into the management of lymphoedema in advanced disease and at the end of life. The aim of lymphoedema management in the palliative care setting should be to maintain comfort, which involves supporting oedematous tissues, reducing swelling, protecting fragile skin and managing lymphorrhoea. Patients with advanced disease are often unable to tolerate intensive compression therapy and instead require a modified form of compression therapy that is gentler and comprises less layers. This article provides an overview of lymphoedema and discusses both the use of compression therapy as part of decongestive therapy in lymphoedema management and modified compression therapy at the end of life. Conflicts of interest: none

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