BC Lymphedema Program at VGH/UBC
Lymphedema is a chronic disease that causes lymph fluid to collect in the body’s tissues due to an impaired lymphatic system, typically due to the surgical removal of lymph nodes, radiation treatment or other trauma. It results in swelling, most commonly in the upper & lower limbs that worsens over time and can lead to life-threatening infections and disability. In Canada, lymphedema most commonly develops secondary to cancer treatment (where lymph nodes have been removed and/or irradiated), traumatic injury, or infection. Lymphedema can occur days, months or even years after patients recover from their initial diagnosis.
Despite its devastating impact, lymphedema is underdiagnosed and woefully misunderstood. Patients have few treatment options and, without a cure in sight, must rely on continuous therapy which consists of daily compression wraps, lymphatic drainage therapy, and other conservative management to control their symptoms. These are both time-consuming and unaffordable as there is little medical coverage for these costs. Left untreated, symptoms progress, often leading to life-threatening infections and a cycle of hospitalizations.
Imagine fighting for your life, overcoming the odds of surviving cancer, a trauma or a life-threatening infection, only to be left with a chronic, painful and disfiguring disease that impacts your daily life and makes the simplest of everyday tasks a challenge. This is the reality for an estimated one million Canadians, approximately 130,000 in BC, including 20-30% of breast cancer survivors.
With the generous support of philanthropists like you, Dr. Erin Brown will revolutionize lymphedema care in our province. Having completed an intensive period of specialized micro-surgical training with leading experts in Asia, he brings surgical options, with the potential to halt and even reverse disease progression, to BC lymphedema patients. Dr. Brown will work alongside Dr. Elliot Weiss, a longstanding leader in lymphedema care, and other experienced professionals to establish a first-in-BC clinic to determine whether a new surgical technique would be an appropriate treatment for a patient.
How You Can Help
Your generous support of this new BC Lymphedema Program at VGH will allow us to purchase diagnostic and specialized super-microsurgical equipment necessary to bring these proven surgical techniques to western Canada. Together, we will usher in a new era for lymphedema patients and change the prognosis for hundreds of cancer survivors and others living with this devastating disease.