Lymphedema is misdiagnosed and little treated, with the complications that this entails. This is partly because decongestive lymphatic therapy involves significant financial costs, which are poorly covered. That’s why the Lymphedema Association of Québec initiated a petition to request full coverage by the RAMQ of the necessary care for lymphedema.
About lymphedema and it’s coverage
Lymphedema is a swelling due to abnormal buildup of fluid in body tissues that can occur when the lymphatic system is improperly developed [primary] or […] when the lymphatic system is damaged as a result of trauma, surgery, or radiation [secondary]. […] Lymphedema can also occur as a side effect of other conditions such as chronic venous insufficiency or severe obesity.
It is a chronic condition that can be controlled but does not heal. The treatments required for inflammatory breast cancer cases put women at high risk for lymphedema on the affected side.
Decongestive lymphatic therapy
Decongestive lymphatic therapy (DLT) combines skin care, compression (using bandages or garments), manual lymph drainage (MLD), and remedial exercises. DLT is currently considered the most effective treatment available.
Decongestive therapy does not cure lymphedema. It aims to reduce swelling and stabilize it. People with lymphedema must go to a private clinic to see a certified lymphedema therapist, receive manual lymphatic drainage and learn self-management. This represents considerable costs. Since January 2014, the RAMQ reimburses a portion of the costs related to the purchase of bandages or compression garments, but an insufficient number per year. I have spoken on August 3 about the review of the Program concerning bandages and compression garments necessary for the treatment of lymphedema (post not translated yet, sorry).
Petition for a full coverage of lymphedema
On Saturday, October 28th, I attend the 2017 National Lymphedema Congress. It is at this point that I discovered the Lymphedema Association of Québec’s petition (LAQ). Here is the text of the online petition :
Petition for the complete management by the Régie de l’ assurance-maladie du Québec.
To the Government of Québec,
We, the undersigned, are calling for the complete management by the RAMQ, that is to say free and universal access to diagnosis, treatments in Decongestive Lymphatic Therapy and all compression garments/bandages necessary to control this chronic and degenerative condition. We ask for this comprehensive care for all affected Quebeckers, regardless of age or place of residence.
Caused by malformation or lymphatic system disruption, lymphedema and leads to a series of health complications that include: reduced lymphatic function, fibrosis, local inflammatory and immunological changes, infectious outbreaks (cellulitis, lymphangitis, erysipelas), septicemia and lymphangiosarcoma. Lymphedema is a true disease; a daily burden for those affected. Lymphedema must be treated in a full and comprehensive manner by our health care system and the cost of care must be fully paid for by the state.
Sign the petition
You can sign the petition online before January 15th 2018 at https://www.change.org/p/lymphoed%C3%A8me-prise-en-charge-des-soins-par-la-ramq?recruiter=498039899&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=share_email_responsive.
- Lymphedema Association of Québec. Lymphoedeme Lymphedema Association Québec – Infolympho. Retrieved at http://infolympho.ca/
- Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec. Compression garments for the treatment of lymphedema. Retrieved at http://www.ramq.gouv.qc.ca/en/citizens/aid-programs/compression-garments-lymphedema/Pages/compression-garments-treatment-lymphedema.aspx