Cancer or cancer treatment can cause a condition called Lymphoedema, but what is it is and why does it happen? Lymphoedema affects millions of cancer patients, yet many are not aware of the risks involved or why it is caused?
Lymphoedema affects around two in ten people with cancer; research has shown that 140 to 250 million people throughout the world have been affected by the condition after having cancer treatment.
At MyPinsOnline, we have compiled some information about why and how leg swelling occurs after cancer treatment:
What is Lymphoedema?
Lymphoedema is a long term condition where swelling develops because of a build-up of lymph fluid in the body’s tissues.
The condition can develop months or even years after cancer treatment and can also happen in any part of the body, but the most common place is the arms or legs. Your doctor should advise you if your cancer treatment may cause lymphoedema. It is important to identify Lymphoedema and seek treatment as soon as possible as the earlier treatment is started, the more successful it can be.
Symptoms of Leg Swelling After Cancer Treatment
It may be obvious that swelling is the only symptom, but often other symptoms of Lymphoedema can affect the legs and other body parts, including:
- Difficulty with movement
- Hard, tight skin
- Folds developing in the skin
- Repeated skin infections
- Aching and heavy feeling in the legs
The symptoms of the condition can vary depending on whether the condition is mild, moderate, or severe. It’s best to contact your doctor if you experience swelling after cancer treatment in order to get treatment or see a Lymphoedema specialist.
Cause of Leg Swelling
Leg swelling and Lymphoedema occurs when your lymph vessels are unable to adequately drain lymph fluid, usually from an arm or leg. There are primary and secondary causes of Lymphoedema; primary occurs on its own, whereas secondary occurs because of another disease or condition. For example, old age, excess weight or obesity and rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis can be risk factors for leg swelling or Lymphoedema.
We do not know why some people develop Lymphoedema after cancer treatments and others do not. Straining the limb or having a skin infection may cause swelling in some who are at risk of developing the condition. However, having a healthy diet or lifestyle after treatment is one of the prevention methods, but even this is not clinically proven to prevent Lymphoedema.
There is no cure for Lymphoedema, but it is usually possible to control the main symptoms using techniques to minimise fluid build-up and stimulate the flow of fluid through the Lymphatic system. The treatment available for Lymphoedema includes wearing compression garments, taking good care of your skin, moving and exercising regularly and using specialised massage techniques.
If you are worried about the swelling of any kind in your legs, you should talk to your doctor for advice and treatment options. Swelling in the legs is not always Lymphoedema and can be linked to other medical conditions, which is why it’s crucial to seek a health professional’s opinion.