Lymphedema is chronic swelling, normally of an arm or a leg. It occurs when lymph nodes have been blocked or removed, the remaining lymph system has a decreased ability to remove excess fluid. This is commonly seen in women after damage or surgical removal of lymph nodes during the treatment of breast cance and can also be seen in after treatment for prostate cancer in men. Lymphedema can be present shortly after cancer treatments, or as long as 20 years later. If left untreated, the swelling can worsen over time. Additionally, chronic edema in the legs can develop due to circulatory compromise such as with venous insufficiency or cellulitis.
Recognizing The Symptoms
If you notice any swelling or a feeling of heaviness in an extremity, seek medical advice from your doctor. If lymphedema is diagnosed, it is essential to seek treatment immediately. Promptly initiating lymphedema treatment ensures better outcomes and decreased treatment time.