What is lymphoedema?

Lymphoedema means a build up of lymph fluid that causes swelling in a part of the body. It can develop if there are problems with the lymphatic system.

About lymphoedema and cancer

Lymphoedema (swelling) can sometimes develop due to cancer or cancer treatment.

Lowering your risk of lymphoedema

There are many things you can do to lower your risk of swelling (lymphoedema) after cancer treatment.

Symptoms of lymphoedema

The most common symptom of lymphoedema is swelling. Some people also feel heaviness or aching. Symptoms can appear any time after cancer treatment.

Diagnosing and assessing lymphoedema

Doctors and specialist nurses can diagnose, test and assess lymphoedema. 

Treating lymphoedema

Treatments to manage lymphoedema include skin care, exercise, weight management, compression therapy and manual lymphatic drainage (specialised massage).

Infection and lymphoedema

There are ways to reduce your risk of infection when you have lymphoedema. See your doctor straight away if you think you have an infection. Early treatment helps to stop an infection.

Lymphoedema research

Research helps us to find out more about conditions such as lymphoedema. Researchers are looking at what reduces the risk of developing lymphoedema and different ways of managing it.

Coping with lymphoedema

Lymphoedema can affect you emotionally, physically and practically. There are ways that you can help yourself to cope. You can also get support from other people.

Resources and support

There are lots of organisations, support groups and helpful books to help you cope with lymphoedema caused by cancer or its treatment.

Last reviewed: 
08 Aug 2019
Coronavirus and cancer

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