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Click to read "I love my Caregivers" by Wanda


Edema is swelling caused by the accumulation of fluid in or under the skin. Depending on the cause and the location of the swelling, the fluid may lymphatic fluid, tissue fluid, or blood.

Lymphedema is edema caused by an imbalance between the rate at which lymphatic fluid is created and drained by the lymphatic system.

The most common cause of lymphedema is cancer treatment that involves removing or damaging lymph nodes. For example:

  • Breast cancer treatment may cause lymphedema in the arms or trunk.
  • Cancer treatment in the pelvic area may lead to lymphedema in the trunk, genitals, or legs. 
  • Head and neck cancer can cause lymphedema of the head and neck.

Lymphedema can also be:

  • Caused by other injuries that damage the skin, veins, or lymph nodes such as burns.
  • Triggered by medical conditions like chronic venous insufficiency, lipedema, or obesity.
  • An inherited condition that is evident at birth, during adolescence, or later.

For more information see Early Intervention to Prevent Lymphedema, Warning Signs of Lymphedema, and Diagnosing Lymphedema.

Swollen tissues are prone to infection and other problems, see Lymphedema Related Infections. These risks can be minimized by effective treatment, see How Lymphedema is Treated.

For more information on each of these topics, and much more, get Living Well With Lymphedema. Buy now in paperback from Amazon.com, Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, or Barnes and Noble (ISBN 978-0-9764806-1-7)  or click here for other options.

Got a question or comment? Post it in the Living Well With Lymphedema, the book forum.

Publication: Living Well With Lymphedema
Updated: 2017-01-02


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