As a general practitioner providing continuing medical care for patients in the community is key. Usually a patient's first point of contact will be their GP, either at the surgery, or in their own home or even in a care home. When diagnosing oedema and recommending the required treatment, a holistic approach has to be taken into consideration. These include the patient’s medical history and a thorough examination of the oedema and skin. Part of the diagnosis might be to refer the patient to specialists or the hospital for further assessment or treatment.
The GP is part of a team of healthcare professionals such as tissue viability nurse, lymphoedema specialists or a podiatrist who should discuss care options for the patient with oedema and their families or carers. Involving the patient and helping them take responsibility for their own health increases the probability of success and concordance to treatment plan.
My name is Gaynor and I have secondary lymphoedema from breast cancer related treatment. I was horrified and angry that I wasn’t told this was a possibility, never heard of this condition and didn’t realise the lifestyle changes I would have to make and how little information was available. The anger has turned to a passion to raise awareness of lymphoedema and supporting others living with this condition via social media communities, on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as a website.