Lymphedema

Quick information handout by the Gyn-Onc Health Information Service

 Lymphedema (.pdf)

General Information

Lymphedema is an abnormal collection of high-protein fluid just beneath the skin. This swelling, or edema, occurs most commonly in the arm or leg, but it also may occur in other parts of the body including the breast or trunk, head and neck, or genitals.

The swelling happens because lymph nodes, which normally act as filters, aren’t able to do their job as well because of :

  • surgery that removes lymph nodes, or lymph node dissection
  • radiation therapycancer that spreads, or metastasizes, to the lymph nodes
  • an infection or inflammation that damages lymph vessels
  • injury to the lymph nodes

Signs or symptoms of lymphedema to watch out for include: a full or heavy sensation in the limb(s), tightness of the skin or tissue, decreased flexibility in the hand/wrist/foot/ankle, difficulty fitting into clothing in one specific area, or ring/wristwatch/bracelet tightness. If you notice swelling in an area, call your physician. Even if the edema goes away—you could be experiencing an early sign of lymphedema. Early treatment minimizes the symptoms and can improve the outcome.

Source:

 Canadian Cancer Society

 National Lymphedema Network

Websites

JGH Lymphedema Clinic 

 McGill Lymphedema Research Program 

 Lymphedema Association of Quebec

Portail santé mieux-être du governement du Québec

 Lymphedema

 Canadian Lymphedema Framework

 Lymphedema Association of Ontario

National Cancer Institute

 Lymphedema (PDQ®)

Facing forward : Life after cancer treatment - Ways to manage physical changes - Lymphedema or Swelling

American Cancer Society

 Understanding Lymphedema -- For Cancers Other Than Breast Cancer

Mayo Clinic

 Lymphedema

MedlinePlus

 Lymphedema

OncoLink

 About Gynecologic Cancer and Lymphedema

UptoDate (Advanced Readers)

Complications of Gynecologic Surgery – Lymphedema & Lymphocyst

 Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of lymphedema

 Clinical staging and conservative management of peripheral lymphedema

Patient education materials in other formats

 Search results from the JGH Patient Education Network (PEN) Collections

Social Media

 Lymphedema Guru

A Facebook page solely dedicated to inform about all things related to lymphedema – news, support groups, treatment centers, and much more.

Videos

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre

 Day to day coping with lymphedema

Books

Lymphedema : Understanding and Managing Lymphedema After Cancer Treatment. American Cancer Society, 2006. Available in Hope & Cope Library (Room No. E 730.1) of the Jewish General Hospital.

 More books on lymphedema recommended by Joachim Zuther, lymphedema specialist.

Last updated on November 17, 2016

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