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Lymphedema clinic

Learn more about lymphedema symptoms and treatments. Download lymphedema infographic »

Lymphedema is a common side effect of several cancers and cancer treatments. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), Philadelphia, our lymphedema clinic offers patients a multidisciplinary approach to treating this chronic condition and its symptoms, all under one roof. The lymphedema clinic at CTCA® Philadelphia may be an option for patients who have had their cancer treated at CTCA or another hospital, or whose lymphedema is a result of a medical condition other than cancer.

What is lymphedema?

The lymphatic system is a series of vessels and lymph nodes that carry lymph fluid throughout the body to filter waste and help fight infection. When the lymph nodes are removed during surgery or are damaged or blocked by disease or treatment, lymphatic fluid may build up and cause lymphedema, an accumulation of fluid under the skin, usually in the extremities. Lymphedema is commonly associated with breast cancer, but may also result from treatment for other cancer types, such as prostate cancer, gynecological cancers, lymphoma and melanoma.

Philadelphia Lymphedema Clinic

At CTCA Philadelphia, our doctors and clinicians understand that lymphedema may have a profound effect on patients’ quality of life. That’s why we’ve developed a clinic with dedicated office hours—two full days each month—focused exclusively on helping patients reduce and, when possible, prevent the symptoms of the condition. This clinic offers patients a multidisciplinary approach to treating lymphedema and its symptoms, all under one roof.

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Meet our team

John G. Fernandez - Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon

John G. Fernandez

Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon, CTCA Philadelphia

Imran Shariff - Supportive Care Physician

Imran Shariff

Supportive Care Physician, CTCA Philadelphia


Gina M. Smith

Director of Oncology Rehabilitation and Integrative Services, CTCA Philadelphia

Erika Carachilo - Speech Language Pathologist

Erika Carachilo

Speech Language Pathologist

Teresa Hanssens

Occupational Therapist, Certified Lymphedema Therapist

Betsy Butterworth

Physical Therapy Assistant

Types of lymphedema

There are two forms of lymphedema:

Primary lymphedema occurs when an individual is born with an abnormality of the lymphatic system.

Secondary lymphedema is the result of surgery or other factors that cause damage to the lymphatic system.

The symptoms of lymphedema include:

Treatment options for lymphedema

Lymphedema is a chronic condition that cannot be cured, but several treatment options may help reduce its symptoms.

Oncology rehabilitation

Oncology rehabilitation at the Philadelphia Lymphedema Clinic offers patients a range of therapies to help patients with this condition. Our team includes certified lymphedema therapists and other experts who offer complete decongestive therapy (CDT) and other options designed to help patients build endurance and strength, reduce pain and stress, and regain the independence and energy they may need to resume their daily activities.

What is complete decongestive therapy?

CDT is the standard of care for lymphedema management and is designed to reduce swelling and pain, reroute lymph flow to healthy vessels and help patients improve their quality of life. The components of CDT include:


At CTCA® Philadelphia, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon John Fernandez, MD, FACS, is experienced at several surgical options for lymphedema, including:

Integrative care

Supportive care services, tools and techniques may help relieve lymphedema symptoms. For instance:

Nutritional support may help patients maintain a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise, which may help lower the risk of lymphedema.

Other supportive care services, tools and techniques that may help relieve lymphedema symptoms include:

Emotional support

For some patients, the symptoms of lymphedema are more than physical. The condition may cause some patients to experience body-image issues, brought on by swelling of the arms or legs. Your care team may encourage you to seek out support groups, such as Cancer Support Community Philadelphia, that provide exercise classes, lectures and other activities and allow patients to share their experiences and learn from others.

Learn more about lymphedema causes, symptoms and treatments
Philadelphia Hospital

Where we are located

CTCA Philadelphia

Lymphedema Clinic
1331 E. Wyoming Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19124
For more information, call 888-PA-LYMPH (888-725-9674).

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