With appropriate treatment, lymphedema can easily be stopped from progressing and even cured, allowing patients to regain full mobility and return to normal function of day-to-day tasks. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Two breast cancer survivors who were slowly losing their mobility due to swollen limbs have been successfully treated in Al Ain.

Both patients had earlier undergone multiple treatments for their breast cancer, and the therapies had resulted in lymphedema, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha), said in a statement.

Fatima Al Kaabi and Asma Saleh had presented to Seha hospital in Al Ain — Al Ain Hospital and Tawam Hospital — with similar medical histories, having undergone chemotherapy and surgery to cure breast cancer. Al Kaabi had undergone a partial mastectomy in 2008, followed by chemotherapy and radiation. When the cancer relapsed in 2014, she underwent a complete mastectomy. Saleh, on the other hand, opted for a double mastectomy in 2010.

A multi-disciplinary approach is adopted in the treatment of lymphedema. Image Credit: Supplied

Lymphedema diagnosis

Both went on to develop lymphedema, swelling in the arms or legs as a result of damage to, or removal of, the lymph nodes. The damaged lymph nodes result in blockages in the lymphatic system, preventing lymphs from draining well and causing fluid build-up and swelling.

Al Kaabi and Saleh had complained of limited hand mobility and severe pain, and they were referred to Tawam Hospital’s physiotherapy unit; both Al Ain and Tawam Hospital are part of the Seha network in Al Ain. There, they received manual lymph drainage, manual bandaging, exercises, pneumatic compression and pressure garments.

“Lymphedema is a common occurrence for cancer patients following surgery. Fatima and Asma both serve as testaments that with the appropriate medical procedure and management, the condition can easily be stopped from progressing and even cured, allowing patients to regain full mobility and return to normal function of day-to-day tasks,” said Dr Sumaya Al Hammadi, manager of rehabilitation services at Tawam and a certified lymphatic therapist.

Treatable condition

“When deriving the right solution for patients with lymphedema, it is important to coordinate regularly with the patients’ medical teams, and make sure the treatment plan fits with the patient’s lifestyle. Thanks to the multidisciplinary approach adopted throughout the Seha network, we were able to quickly and expertly care for Fatima and Asma, both of whom have now been cured of the condition,” Dr Al Hammadi said.

“I extend my gratitude to the UAE’s leadership and Seha, who spare no effort in providing citizens and residents with world-class health care. Thanks to the holistic efforts of the medical and physiotherapy teams at Tawam Hospital, I have now regained movement in my arm, can drive again, and today live a normal life,” Al Kaabi said.

“I am so very thankful for the expertise available in both Tawam Hospital and Al Ain Hospital and their ability to work together so seamlessly to care for my condition with the utmost compassion and dedication,” Saleh said.