Breast Cancer Awareness Month at St Albans’ Grove House hospice

OCTOBER is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Grove House is there not only to help many local women cope with the shock and trauma of diagnosis but also to help manage some of the lesser-known side effects of the disease.

Last year in the UK one in nine women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Most women are aware that any change of size or shape in the breast should immediately be reported to the GP. Early detection, better awareness and improved treatments are continually improving breast cancer survival rates.

One little known and sometimes distressing side effect of breast cancer treatment is a condition known as lymphoedema. It is estimated that around a third of patients who have had surgery or radiotherapy close to the armpit as part of their treatment may develop lymphoedema at some point in their lifetime.

Lymphoedema is a chronic swelling of the limbs due primarily to the failure of lymph drainage. But the vast majority of patients who contract the condition experience only mild to moderate symptoms and it is usually only the arm and breast that are affected.

Grove House, working in a collaborative partnership with the Macmillan Lymphoedema Team, offers practical support and advice to anyone in the West Herts area affected by lymphoedema. Trained practitioners offer specialist advice on recognising the condition as well as practical support on managing symptoms.

Mary Brentnall, clinical specialist physiotherapist and lymphoedema therapist at Grove House, sees patients by appointment both at the hospice as well as in their own homes. She said: “Lymphoedema is a chronic condition which can be distressing. The major symptoms – swelling and risk of infection can be greatly improved and controlled overtime. This is very important, because left untreated the condition can deteriorate.”

Mary continued: “Working closely with Macmillan breast care nurses and Lymphoedema nurses we can offer a joined-up service to offer advice on prevention and management of this disease and help people get on with their lives.”

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To find out more about Grove House and how the hospice can help, phone 01727 731000 or visit

For specialist information about lymphoedema contact the Lymphoedema Support Network on 020 7351 4480 or visit