Changes to Cancer Council services

24 September 2014

Cancer Council WA will increase the number of specialised exercise programs for cancer patients and their families as it moves to redirect donors’ funds from its Lymphoedema Management Service to its Life Now programs.

The review of services has been prompted by reduced demand for the lymphoedema service and a significant increase in public and private providers offering the service.

Sandy McKiernan, CCWA Cancer Information and Support Services Director, says when the Lymphoedema Management Service began 15 years ago, the Cancer Council was the sole provider of this type of service in WA.

“The Cancer Council opened the service to fill a critical gap in services for cancer patients at a time when lymphoedema management services were simply not available and there was no indication that either the public or private health systems were going to provide them,” Ms McKiernan said.

She said since then there has been a significant increase in public hospital and private providers, with about 25 lymphoedema management providers now operating in WA.

Over that time, Cancer Council has also funded scholarships aiming to increase the number of trained lymphoedema management therapists.

“I’m proud of the fact that Cancer Council funding has not only enabled health professionals across the state to undertake specialised lymphoedema training, but we’ve also helped to expand the number of services in WA,” Ms McKiernan said.

“More services means less travelling time and greater convenience for many clients suffering from lymphoedema because they can see a practitioner closer to home.”

Ms McKiernan says exercise is now often prescribed as medicine for many cancer patients, and studies have shown that exercise, including use of moderate weights, does not worsen limb swelling and for some can reduce symptoms and at the same time increase strength.

“Our Life Now exercise classes are run by qualified Exercise Physiologists who can plan a program specifically for supporting those whom experience lymphoedema.

“Exercise is also important to maintain mobility of the joints and to stretch and strengthen muscles,” she said.

“We are very proud of the contribution Cancer Council has made over many years to improving the quality of life of cancer patients affected by lymphoedema both through our subsidised service and our patient education and lymphoedema scholarship program, but it is now time for Cancer Council to redirect our donor funds to build some of our other services, including increased staffing on our Cancer Council Helpline and by expanding our Life Now Exercise classes,” Ms McKiernan said.

The service will officially close on October 31st.


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