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Lifetime achievement for lymphoedema doctor

Published 16/02/2016

A Derby doctor who has devoted many years to supporting patients suffering with lymphoedema has been recognised for his efforts in this little-known field.

Dr Vaughan Keeley has spent the last three decades working with patients suffering the painful swelling caused by this condition, in the hope of helping to relieve their symptoms and encourage a better quality of life.

He has now been handed a lifetime achievement award by the British Lymphology Society for his contribution to the field.

He said: “It was very unexpected, but I was very honoured. It was a surprise to be presented with it at the conference, but it got a very good reception, which was nice.”

Dr Keeley developed an interest in lymphoedema when through treating patients with breast cancer, who are prone to developing the condition. He and some colleagues set up a clinic to help them manage their symptoms in Cambridge, where he worked at the time.

When he moved to Derby in the late 1980s, he saw an opportunity to develop a clinic here. What began as a service for breast cancer patients soon grew, and the clinic now sees 1,000 new patients every year, with some travelling long distances to receive treatment here. Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust also runs clinics in Nottingham and Mansfield.

Dr Keeley said: “We started seeing breast cancer patients, but it became more varied as different people came along. It was very patient-driven. It’s grown ever since. It’s one of the biggest clinics outside London and we get referrals from across the north of the country.” 

He said he hopes one day to ‘put lymphoedema on the map’, as it is a condition which very few people know about. During his years in the field, he has led a lot of research looking into quality of life for patients, including one study which led to the development of a tool to measure the impact which the condition has on patients’ lives. It has been translated into several languages and used all over the world.

Several studies which he is currently involved in are looking into the link between breast cancer and lymphoedema and the relationship between obesity and the condition.

Dr Keeley said: “Lymphoedema is linked with older people and obesity, so with an ageing population and an obesity crisis, it is something we will see more of. We need to put lymphedema on the map.”

Dr Vaughan Keeley
Last Modified 16/02/2016