Neath specialist helps Sierra Leone cancer patients

image copyrightElizabeth Coveney
image captionElizabeth Coveney (left) travelled to Sierra Leone as part of the South Wales Sierra Leone Cancer Care Link

A specialist from a Neath Port Talbot hospital has travelled to Africa to help breast cancer patients.

Elizabeth Coveney has spent a week in Sierra Leone with oncologists and surgeons from Velindre Cancer Centre.

She was invited due to her expertise in lymphoedema - a chronic condition that causes swelling in body tissue.

Ms Coveney, who works at Cimla Hospital, Neath, said: "The invitation came out of the blue but I knew straight away I wanted to do it."

Lymphoedema develops when lymph nodes or vessels are damaged or blocked and can lead to decreased mobility, pain, anxiety and depression.

image copyrightABMU Health Board

Ms Coveney said women in Sierra Leone present with breast cancer in the advanced stage, which means they have also developed lymphoedema.

She has been passing on her expertise to clinicians in the country, including self-management techniques they can show their patients, including a bandaging technique women can use for support.

"You won't get outstanding results but it will give some relief for the weight of the arm, which can feel very heavy. It may also help stop it progressing as quickly," said Ms Coveney

The team have taken supplies of bandages women can wash and reuse.

"I am delighted to have this opportunity to support my colleagues in Sierra Leone in the management of this very debilitating and disabling condition," she added.

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