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Lymphedema is a condition characterized by painful swelling in the extremities (arms and/or legs). The swelling occurs when lymph nodes are no longer facilitating the proper drainage of lymph fluid from an area of the body. Primary lymphedema is a congenital condition; however, in the developed world, secondary lymphedema is the most common type of lymphedema. This condition may be caused by infection, trauma or, most commonly, treatment of cancer.
What causes lymphedema?
Lymphedema affects some cancer survivors who have been treated for breast cancer, gynecologic cancers, melanomas and other types of skin and urologic cancers. Lymphedema may impact cancer survivors on a daily basis and is a constant reminder of the disease that they have fought. The onset of symptoms may be delayed by months or even years after the initial injury.
There are a number of symptoms that affect patients with lymphedema that typically worsen over time:●Extremity swelling caused by lymphatic fluid●Change in skin quality such as skin fibrosis●Extremity tenderness or pain●Intermittent redness of the extremity, known as cellulitis●Excess fat in the extremity