Karcher Bill To Raise Awareness Of Lymphedema Approved

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Ellen Karcher which would designate March 6 of each year as “Lymphedema Awareness Day,” was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 37-0.

“Lymphedema is a severe and debilitating medical condition in which lymphatic fluid causes painful swelling in the arms, legs, or elsewhere in the body,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer. “In cases when it’s caught early, it can be treated, but in untreated cases, it can cause disfigurement, severe infection, and the loss of the use of the limbs. We want to get the word out about this disease, and encourage anyone who may be at risk to get checked out.”

Senator Karcher’s bill, SJR-31, would designate March 6th of every year as “Lymphedema Awareness Day,” and would call upon the Governor, public officials and the health care community to engage in activities which promote greater understanding of the treatment needs and severity of Lymphedema. Most cases of Lymphedema are developed as a result of infection, trauma, surgery, radiation therapy or removal of the lymph nodes, although in some rare cases, it can be genetically inherited. Cancer survivors are particularly susceptible to Lymphedema because the removal of lymph nodes is a typical cancer-related treatment, and 10 to 15 percent of mastectomy patients develop Lymphedema of the arm.

Senator Karcher’s resolution coincides with the National Lymphedema Network’s efforts to promote March 6 as Lymphedema Awareness Day to honor patients and raise awareness.

“Lymphedema is not a high-profile medical disorder, but it’s a very serious condition that demands greater public awareness,” said Senator Karcher. “Particularly for cancer patients, Lymphedema can cause added financial burden to medical treatment costs, and people should know the dangers and treatment options associated with the condition. Hopefully, by ensuring the annual recognition of Lymphedema, we can educate the public and increase support to patients suffering with this condition.”

The bill now heads to the full Assembly for consideration. An identical resolution, sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Stender and Assembly Health Committee Chair, Assemblyman Herb Conaway, was unanimously approved today by the Assembly health panel.