In 2018, the National Cancer Institute reported 18.1 million new cancer diagnoses worldwide. Receiving a cancer diagnosis is never easy. But no matter where you are on your cancer journey, there are people, resources and teams of health care professionals ready to help you. Cancer treatment is not just treating the malignant components of your diagnosis, but also tending to your physical and mental health needs.
Inspira Health now offers the latest technology for the early detection of lymphedema, a common complication of breast cancer treatment. It can occur when surgery or radiation therapy impact the body’s lymph system, reducing its ability to drain excess fluid. Now, a sophisticated but simple scan can detect even the earliest stage of fluid buildup in an at-risk person’s arm, hand, underarm or breast. It is estimated that approximately one in three people who undergo lymph node dissection (surgical removal) as part of their breast cancer treatment will experience clinically significant lymphedema.
Using the ImpediMed SOZO device, clinicians can detect small changes in fluid. When a fluid buildup is detected very early – before it can be recognized visually or with a measuring tape – specialists at Inspira can take steps to greatly reduce the risk of it developing into clinically significant lymphedema, thereby preventing or minimizing symptoms. Lymphedema symptoms can include: weakness, stiffness, numbness, pain and loss of function in the hand, arm, chest, breast, or underarm areas. In some cases, the symptoms can be debilitating.
With the SOZO device, fluid changes as small as 2.4 tablespoons can be detected. The scan takes less than one minute and is available at Inspira’s Mullica Hill and Vineland cancer centers.
“At Inspira Health, we continually strive to provide the best possible care for our cancer patients,” said Dr. Nandini Kulkarni, M.D., medical director of Surgical Oncology for Inspira Health. “For us, this means both delivering excellent care to our patients before, during and after treatment. Cancer survivorship is growing rapidly as a result of improved treatments and we are proud to be one of the first hospitals in our region to offer lymphedema prevention and early detection as a service to our patients.”
Lymphedema is a leading post-treatment complication for many cancer patients. It is most common in breast cancer patients who have their lymph nodes removed or who undergo radiation that impacts the lymph nodes. Additionally, 6 to 12% of breast cancer patients who have a sentinel node biopsy (a diagnostic procedure to test if cancer has spread beyond the original tumor) will also develop lymphedema.
Inspira Health offers the latest in screening and preventive care for patients at risk of developing lymphedema, including a multidisciplinary lymphedema program where doctors can prescribe pre-hab (before treatment) exercises.
The SOZO device uses sophisticated technology called bioimpedance spectroscopy to detect fluid changes. A baseline scan taken before treatment can be compared to future scans performed at designated intervals after treatment is completed.
To learn more about Inspira’s breast cancer program or to make an appointment visit InspiraHealthNetwork.org or call 1-800-640-8989.