About the OSUCCC – James Lymphedema Center of Excellence

The specialists in the OSUCCC – James Lymphedema Center of Excellence provide exceptional, internationally recognized care specifically designed to offer comprehensive treatment for patients with lymphedema.

The Lymphedema Center of Excellence is one of the Midwest’s leading treatment centers for lymphedema-related care, with experts who reach across multiple medical disciplines (oncologists, hematologists, molecular and biological pathologists, genetic scientists, researchers and more) and utilize best practices to offer the very best personalized therapies in a patient-focused environment, including Roman Skoracki, MD, the division chief of Oncologic Plastic Surgery at the OSUCCC – James.

This multidisciplinary approach enables these specialists to provide convenient access to world-class surgical oncology, plastic surgery, oncology rehabilitation therapists with special accreditation in lymphedema care, dietary and nutritional support, MRL imaging (which provides a detailed look at the entire lymphatic system), specialized interventional radiology procedures, vascular medicine and much more.

If you’ve been diagnosed with lymphedema, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with a lymphedema specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

What Is Lymphedema?

Approximately 3 to 5 million Americans, with an additional 40,000-50,000 new patients diagnosed per year, will experience chronic lymphedema, which is an uncomfortable and often painful, mobility-limiting swelling in the arms, legs, hands, feet, genitalia or head and neck.

Lymphedema can occur when lymph nodes are removed as part of cancer treatment. About 50 percent of breast cancer patients treated with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation experience lymphedema in their upper limbs.

It also can occur in cancer patients who have undergone treatments that require full lymph node removal (about 40 to 60 percent of patients who had full removal experience this).

Learn more about managing lymphedema symptoms.

Read our blog on how to relieve chronic pain associated with lymphedema.

For other lymphedema related articles, please see: Innovative Surgeries Help Free Cancer Survivors From a Lifetime of Lymphedema and New Procedures at The James Ease Lymphedemas Pain.

What Is the Lymphatic System?

The lymphatic system is the link between the circulatory system (which includes the heart and its network of blood vessels) and the immune system (the complex system that defends our bodies against disease).

Lymph System

Made up of lymphatic vessels, lymph nodes and other organs, the lymphatic system maintains the balance between the fluid that naturally accumulates between the body’s cells, known as interstitial fluid, and how the body releases that fluid. Our bodies typically clear several liters of interstitial fluid every day.

The lymphatic system’s main purpose is to:

  • Remove extra fluid from body tissues
  • Absorb fat and recycle it into the bloodstream
  • Defend the body against disease

When there is more fluid generated than the lymphatic system can eliminate, the body experiences a backup of fluid, which causes swelling known as lymphedema.

While lymphedema can occur in any part of the body, it most frequently occurs in the arms and legs. It can affect just one arm or leg, or it may occur in both.

Full of protein, lymph fluid accumulation can not only cause swelling but also limb heaviness, decreased range of motion, tightness, joint discomfort and other symptoms.

On a molecular level (at a scale best seen with a microscope or smaller), lymphedema also causes skin thickening and progressive scarring on the affected limb. This can cause the limb to be more prone to infection, which in turn may worsen the lymphedema and its harmful effects, creating a dangerous cycle.

There are two types of lymphedema:

Primary lymphedema occurs in people who are born with a lymphatic system that does not function properly, and it may appear at birth, during puberty or in adulthood.

Secondary lymphedema is more frequently seen and diagnosed. It’s usually caused by an injury or a disruption of the lymphatic system (such as from surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy).

Secondary lymphedema can appear weeks, months or even years after surgery. It is not clear why some people develop swelling and others do not. Although there are rare cases when lymphedema has improved and not come back, in most patients it remains and requires long-term treatment.

If you’ve been diagnosed with lymphedema, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with a lymphedema specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

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