Lymphoedema

Health written question – answered on 3rd June 2003.

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Photo of Tom Levitt Tom Levitt Labour, High Peak

To ask the Secretary of State for Health

(1) what guidance has been given on the use of manual lymphatic drainage in the treatment of lymphoedema;

(2) pursuant to his answer to the hon .Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak of 29th April 2003, Official Report, column 341W, on lymphoedema, what guidance (a) NICE and (b) other NHS advisory bodies give for the treatment of non-cancer related lymphoedema;

(3) what guidance is given to GPs on the treatment of non-cancer related lymphoedema;

(4) if manual lymphatic drainage is included in the training of physiotherapists.

Photo of Jacqui Smith Jacqui Smith Minister of State, Department of Health

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence has issued guidance on the use of drugs for non-Hodgkin's lynphoma and chronic myeloid leukaemia, but not on non-cancer related lymphoedema. We have offered no guidance to general practitioners or other heal professionals on the use of manual lymphatic drainage in the treatment of lymphoedema.

The principles of manual lymphatic drainage are taught to physiotherapists as part of their training. The decision on whether to go on and specialise in this area is one for individual physiotherapists to make.

There is currently no cure but, with appropriate treatment, lymphoedema can be very well managed in the national health service. These treatments consist of a combination of skin care, exercise, massage and compression garments or bandaging. In a few cases it is possible to help surgically, for example by transplanting lymph vessels.

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