Head and neck lymphedema surveillance program

Lymphedema is very common among patients who have undergone surgery or radiation therapy in the head and neck region. Up to 50% of these patients will manifest some signs and symptoms of lymphedema after treatment for head and neck cancers. When lymph nodes or lymph vessels have been removed or damaged during radiation therapy, lymph fluid may not drain properly. If lymph fluid builds up, it can cause swelling in the area being treated. Lymphedema in the head and neck area can inhibit swallowing and/or breathing. Patients who have had surgery followed by radiation therapy are more at risk. Lymphedema is easier to manage if the condition is treated early. At Ribbons PT, as part of our evaluation process we take multiple facial and neck measurements to document severity of lymphedema and to show progress or improvement of the disease and make the patient and provider aware of any potential cases. This allows us to identify swelling when it first presents, sometimes before noticed visually. Our surveillance program monitors for early signs of lymphedema both pre- and post-cancer treatment/surgery for a year.

Cancer Rehabilitation

Ribbons addresses side effects caused by cancer and/or treatments that may include: osteoporosis/osteopenia (thinning of bones), lymphedema (swelling in an arm, leg, trunk, or head & neck area), peripheral neuropathy, balance issues, decreased strength, loss of motion in the joints and cancer related fatigue.

Other common effects found in surgery patients

  • Fatigue            
  • Generalized weakness
  • Loss of range of motion or difficulty moving
  • Difficulties with activities of daily living/return to work
  • Chemotherapy induced cognitive impairment (CICI)

Treatments available

  • Cold laser therapy
  • Complete Decongestive Therapy for lymphedema
  • Personalized strengthening and range of motion program to address individual needs
  • Balance training
  • Endurance training

Ribbons is the region’s only outpatient clinic that is devoted solely to cancer rehabilitation where a comfortable environment is provided so that patients can focus on healing without having to worry about his/her body image. With 3 Certified Lymphedema Therapists encompassing both physical and occupational therapy, your patients can be seen in a timely manner.

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