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Understanding the Lymph System October 28, 2009

Posted by patoconnor in cancer, gynecological cancer, ovarian cancer, tubal cancer, uterine cancer, vaginal cancer.
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Understanding the Lymph System

I thought it would be helpful for readers to understand the lymph system, the anatomy, what it does, and how it helps with immunity.

Listed below are information pages that should be quite helpful and each page has many additional links for more a more in depth study.

Anatomy of the Lymph System

Lymphatic System Functions

Lymphatic System and Immunity

Pathology of the Lymph Nodes and Lymphoma

Lymph Nodes

Lymph Fluid

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Sentinel node biopsy is an effective option for early-stage cervical cancer May 31, 2009

Posted by patoconnor in cancer, gynecological cancer, ovarian cancer, tubal cancer, uterine cancer, vaginal cancer.
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Sentinel node biopsy is an effective option for early-stage cervical cancer

Published: 31/05/2009

A prospective multicenter study conducted by researchers in France suggests that the majority of women with early-stage cervical cancer can safely undergo sentinel node (SN) biopsy – a technique in which only one to three lymph nodes are removed to determine whether cancer has spread – in lieu of the traditional, more invasive pelvic lymph node removal. This study, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology 2009 meeting, showed that SN biopsy was just as useful as full pelvic lymph node removal for identifying even small amounts of cancer cells that spread to lymph nodes in atypical areas of the pelvis.

“Sentinel node biopsy is a good option for women with cervical cancer because it enables us to remove fewer lymph nodes to get information about cancer spread, and could decrease the risk of complications from surgery, such as lymphedema,” said Dr. Fabrice Lecuru, professor at George Pompidou European Hospital in Paris, and the study’s lead author. “Previous studies have shown that sentinel node biopsy can be used to assess cancer spread in usual areas of the pelvis, but our findings add to this growing body of research by showing that this approach is also effective for identifying cancer spread in less common areas of the pelvis and the abdomen. This approach may become a new standard of care for early-stage cervical cancer.”

Ten to 15 per cent of patients with early-stage cervical cancer experience recurrence. Some are due to lymph nodes that were missed during surgery or because of undetected cancer spread to other lymph nodes. During standard surgery, several pelvic lymph nodes are removed and examined for the presence of cancer cells. During SN biopsy, however, a blue dye and radioactive substance that can be traced with imaging techniques are used to locate the first lymph node (the sentinel node) where cancer cells would travel after leaving the cervix. If this node is free of cancer cells, no other lymph nodes should be removed. Since the removal of lymph nodes may impair lymphatic drainage and cause uncomfortable swelling in the legs called lymphedema, doctors have been assessing SN biopsy (which is routinely used for breast cancer and melanoma patients) to see if it can be used to gauge cervical cancer spread.

Prior studies have shown that SN biopsy can be used in cervical cancer patients to predict cancer spread to lymph nodes in the pelvis most likely to contain cancer cells. But in this study, Dr. Lecuru and his colleagues also evaluated the biopsy of sentinel nodes in atypical areas of the pelvis in 128 women with early-stage cervical cancer who also had full pelvic lymph node removal for comparison. They then analysed sentinel nodes for micrometastastic cancer (0.2 to 2 mm in size) and isolated tumour cells as well as areas of cancer greater than 2 mm (macrometastases).

After analysing these nodes, researchers demonstrated that full pelvic lymph node removal and its associated complications could have been avoided in 81.2 per cent of women. Researchers also found that in nearly 40 per cent of women, SN biopsy alone would have provided additional, important information about patients’ disease; for example, SN biopsy was more useful than routine techniques for showing that lymphatic drainage occurred via unusual pathways to less commonly explored areas of the pelvis or of the abdomen, and for detecting micrometastases or isolated tumour cells.

eCancerMedicalScience

Lymphedema For the Newly Diagnosed November 25, 2008

Posted by patoconnor in cancer, gynecological cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, vaginal cancer.
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bluebutterfly1    Lymphedema For the Newly Diagnosed

The immediate time period after being diagnosed with lymphedema can be a confusing and frightening time. In one sense, there may be relief…finally there is a name to this awful “thing” that has attacked your body. But there is also a bewildering amount of emotions, fear…questions of what do I do now and where do I turn to begin dealing with this condition.

I wanted to share a few ideas that hopefully can make this period a little smoother and help give a bit of direction.

hibiscushumming  Acceptance and Denial

You may go through a time when you try to say to yourself that this swelling will just go away by itself or that you don’t really have to do anything about it and that it may not matter much anyway.

But as hard as this is to say, the reality is that if you have lymphedema, it just isn’t going to go away by itself. It isn’t a medical condition that you can just ignore and hope for the best. While there is no present cure, there is treatment available that can help manage it and help you get back on track with your life.

It is so very important to understand this and to get into a treatment program as soon as you can.

Point to Ponder: Acceptance doesn’t mean surrender or giving up to lymphedema.

sunrise1801       Education – Being Proactive

As you may have already experienced, there is a great deal of ignorance in the medical profession about lymphedema. Sometimes, it takes years for a diagnosis and after even that is achieved, most doctors really don’t know what to do next.

That is why it is critical that we as lymphedema patients take the initiative and proactively educate ourselves on every aspect on the condition. You will want to find out what lymphedema is, what it does, what to expect from it, how to have the correct treatment and perhaps most important, how to have a full and meaningful life even with it.

You will also want to educate yourself so you will not fooled by or damaged by all the very bad misinformation out there regarding lymphedema and the lymph system. I’ve noticed that in the last couple years, the lymph system bas become a buzzword in the cyberworld and there a all too many uneducated and badly informed people trying to sell pills, potions and promises of quick cures. Unfortunately, often these supposed cures cause more damage and can even dangerous to your life.

The good thing is that there are many excellent websites that you can go to and find solid, credible, life giving information. In addition to Lymphedema People, there is The Lymphatic Research Foundation, theNational Lymphedema Network, Circle of Hope Lymphedema Foundation, Lymphovenous Canada, Lymphoedema Association of Australia and UKLymph to mention only a few.

Point to ponder: Knowledge is Empowerment. Remember the life you save, may be your own.

butterfly-on-zinnia     Compliance with Your Treatment Program

Once you have finally gotten that diagnosis, it is equally important that you get referral to a trained and certified (Lymphedema Association of North America standards) lymphedema therapist.

Lymphedema therapist are among our best friends and they actually do more on a day to day basis to help us then doctors actually do.

But, sadly as so many therapist will tell you, the number one reason their patients don’t get better or even experience a worsening of their lymphedema is the failure of the patient to be compliant with the proscribed treatment program.

We all understand the fatigue, the pain and the depression that can come with lymphedema. But, my friend, the truth is, is that it is up to you to work with your therapist – as a team to insured you get the most out of your treatment.

Point to ponder: It is your life and your responsibility to do all that you can to help yourself.

firedragon      Anger, Bitterness and Self pity

After that diagnosis you will go through a period of intense emotional conflict. You may swing from anger, feel bitter that this has happened to you and start feeling sorry for yourself.

Please understand, this is totally normal and yes, you do have a right to experience those feelings. Actually, if you didn’t, I would really be concerned for you.

But the key is not to stop with either of those emotions. They are to me, the triple malignancies of the spirit. They have destroyed more lives throughout history then all the medical conditions combined.

Work your way through them…keep pressing forward knowing that this terrible time of emotional struggle ends.

The following is something I do each morning and it really has made a difference in my life.

Point to Ponder: Every morning, before you start your day, ask God to help you be a source of joy, hope and encouragement to another person

winter-solstice-5-2003-l2      Don’t Stop Living Life

When you are first diagnosed, it is easy to be overwhelmed. You feel like your whole life is over with and you will never be able to do anything you love doing again.

Please, believe me when I say, that is simply not true. Lymphedema isn’t about giving up and quitting life, it is about adaptation. You may need to change how you do things, figure out new and less strenuous ways of working and in recreation. But it doesn’t eman to have to stop everything you are used to enjoying.

Besides, if that were true, why even be alive??

If you do find there may be one particular activity you can not do anymore, find another to replace it with.

It is impossible for me to spend all day (lol..even a couple hours) working in my garden. But, I am able to sit at a computer and reach out to help others with lymphedema.

There just are too many wonderful activities, hobbies and interests to pursue to crawl into a cave and hide.

Point to Ponder: If one dream is taken away, God will send another, even more special to replace it.

In conclusion, yes, it can be devestating to be diagnosed with and stricken by lymphedema. But, I honestly do believe, it ultimately comes down to how we choose to handle it. Do we choose to surrender or do we choose to have a meaningful and joyous life despite lymphedema.

LIFE IS A CELEBRATION OF THAT WHICH WE CAN DO, NOT A REQUIEM FOR THAT WE CAN NOT DO.

Pat

Welcome to Ovarian Cancer Info November 11, 2008

Posted by patoconnor in cancer, gynecological cancer, ovarian cancer.
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Someone might ask, why would a man start a blog on ovarian cancer?

The answer really is quite simple.  I had an aunt that past away from it.   By the time it was detected, it was beyond treatment and had spread throughout her body.  There was nothing that the doctors were able to do.  Statistics indicate that ovarian cancer is now the fourth major cause of death from cancer for women.  Clearly, not enough attention is being focused on this disease.

The females in my family also have a horrible ratio of ovarian problems including polycystic ovarian syndrome, my own lovely daughter included.

So it is a very relevant and important topic to me.

It is also important because of a complication that is becoming more and more prevelant among ovarian cancer survivors and that is called lymphedema.  Lymphedema is a condition of leg swelling which results from lymph node removal, damage to the lymph system from radiation or from chemotherapy. I will have a complete page of information on this complication which will include how to recognize it, treatment and outcome. 

I am a thirteen year survivor of a b-cell lymphoma and a fifty-six year hereditary lymphedema patient.

The information I want to provide involves symptoms, diagnoses, treatments, complications and I will include peer reviewed  clinical studies relating to ovarian cancer.