Recognition, treatment and management of post-cancer treatment lymphoedema

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


About 30% of patients treated for their cancer will develop lymphoedema, most within the first two years of their treatment. Early attention to tissue and limb changes and acknowledging patients’ comments about how the limb feels are crucial to control the onset of lymphoedema and/or reduce its severity. Both treatment-related (extent of surgery, radiotherapy and wound management) and patient-related (arm dominance, age, skin condition weight) risk factors need attention. The management of issues such as CCF, and hypertension may help reduce lymph loads, while improving skin care and undertaking physical activity can help improve lymph flow. In order to halt or reverse lymphoedema progression, it is critical to reduce the lymphatic load to below the lymphatic transport capacity. Involvement of a lymphoedema therapist at this stage may help with risk management and be able to provide enhanced lymph flow as part of their treatment. For patients with lymphoedema, treatment should be targeted and sequenced, beginning with an intensive phase, followed by a maintenance phase. Compression garments and bandaging are still the mainstay of treatment, but compliance issues arise in hot climates. For some patients the main problem is not the size of the affected limb, but how the limb feels, so dealing with subjective issues is equally important. There are many new treatment options available for its treatment and lymphoedema therapists will be aware of those suitable for your patient.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWhen Cancer Crosses Disciplines
Subtitle of host publicationA Physician's Handbook
PublisherImperial College Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781848163652
ISBN (Print)9781848163645
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Early and differential diagnosis
  • Lymphoedema
  • Outcome expectations
  • Treatment options


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