Is lymphoedema fatal?
Let me tell you straight away that Lymphoedema by itself is not fatal. Someone asked me this question recently and I realised that any medical condition, if not researched properly, can be taken out of context. It can happen for example when asking “Doctor Google" medical questions and your search engine results present only snippets of information. When this happens, it's very important to click the link and read the ENTIRE article. Things to consider are what is the source of the information? Is it a reputable source? Is this information written by a medical professional or expert in your area of interest? And most importantly...are they backed up by research?
Whilst Lymphoedema by itself is not fatal, it still has to be taken seriously because it is chronic, meaning there is no cure for it or at least not yet. Lymphoedema can also be dangerous to your health when not managed adequately such as leading to infections which can weaken your immune system.
Anyone noticing swelling and/or experiencing symptoms such as pain, heaviness, or decreased range of movement needs to take some precautionary measures as soon as possible. Lymphoedema is called “high protein – low flow” oedema. Proteins are involved in the movement of fluid in the body and can exacerbate the problem when swelling occur due a compromised lymphatic system. They can pool in the tissue, attract more fluid, and create a nice and rich environment for bacteria to develop. This is one of the reasons why someone with Lymphoedema is at risk of developing cellulitis.
To live a long and fulfilling life, it is best to incorporate your Lymphoedema treatment into your daily routine. You can always talk to your Lymphoedema therapist in regards to better strategies should you think that its management is too much of a burden. Everyone is different. The bottom line is to act as soon as possible when experiencing pain, swelling or more swelling and other symptoms. You can save yourself money and heart ache and avoid long term side-effects of unmanaged Lymphoedema.
If Lymphoedema is not treatable, the only solution is defense and management because it is the unexpected that changes our life.
Lymphoedema. (2017, June 1). Retrieved 03/02/21, from Cancer Council Victoria: https://www.cancervic.org.au/living-with-cancer/common-side-effects/lymphoedema
Lymphoedema: Outlook/Prognosis. (2020, June 15). Retrieved 03.02.21, from Cleveland Clinic: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8353-lymphedema/outlook--prognosis
Makoto, M., Hisako, H., Hohei, H., Mitsunaka, M., Takumi, Y., Tadeshi, K., . . . Isao, K. (2012, July 24). Pathological Steps of Cancer-Related Lymphedema: Histological Changes in the Collecting Lymphatic Vessels after Lymphadenectomy. journal.pone0041126. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404077/#:~:text=When%20the%20duration%20of%20illness,6%5D%2C%20%5B7%5D.