Lymphoedema is caused by a problem with your lymphatic system. This causes lymph (fluid) to build up in the affected part of your body. There are many things that can cause lymphoedema including cancer, cancer treatment, infections and injury. Sometimes there’s no particular cause – it’s just something you’re born with.
Lymphoedema isn’t cancer. But it often develops as a result of cancer or following treatment for cancer. Cancer treatments such as surgery and radiotherapy on your lymph nodes can disrupt the normal flow of lymph. Sometimes, cancer itself can spread to your lymph nodes, leading to a blockage.
Lymphoedema is usually treated with a combination of treatments, including exercises, compression, specialised massage and skin care. Some people might have surgery. It’s important to seek medical help as soon as possible if you have lymphoedema symptoms because lymphoedema is easier to treat at an early stage.
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This information was published by Bupa's Health Content Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals and deemed accurate on the date of review. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition.
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