Living with cancer

Lymphoedema

Lymphoedema is chronic swelling of the surface tissues of the body, usually an arm or leg, but it can affect other areas. It is a risk factor for people who have had breast, gynaecological, pelvic, head and neck surgery and radiotherapy for example - particularly if lymph nodes have been removed or damaged. There are even occasional circumstances where cancer can block the lymphatic drainage channels.

There is additional information for people who have had breast cancer treatment in our Lymphodema in breast cancer section.

There is a risk of developing lymphoedema after treatment, although statistics vary as to how many people may be affected. Lymphoedema can occur within a few days, months, or years after treatment. It doesn't happen to everyone, and there are measures that can be taken to help prevent it developing. Should lymphoedema develop, if it detected in the early stages it can be comfortably managed.

The links on this page will help you to find out more about lymphodema and its management.