Lymphoedema is swelling of a part of the body due to a compromised lymphatic system, and with it, you can have an increased risk of infection. There is no cure for lymphoedema, but it is manageable. Patients undergoing cancer treatments, particularly surgery involving removing of lymph nodes and radiation can leave the individual with the risk of developing lymphoedema. Often swelling starts during or immediately following treatment and may resolve by itself with time. For others the swelling may stay and become chronic, or swelling may start months and even years later.
Patients undergoing cancer treatment are usually made aware about prevention of lymphoedema with advice such as:
Avoid heavy lifting using the limb at risk
Avoid sunburn, tight jewellery or clothing
Have good hygiene and moisturise
Upon noticing changes, no matter how small, for example swelling, increase in limb circumference, symptoms of heaviness, difficulty to perform certain tasks, it is important for you to seek help from a professional. Lymphoedema can also cause pain, discomfort, anxiety and depression. A symptom is called chronic when reoccurring over a period of 3 months. You need to manage lymphoedema to minimise the impact of these symptoms on your life. I would not wait three months before doing something about it. An early detection can minimise the cost of management and the impact on your quality of life.
You could start by taking notes to report accurately your symptoms, and later to monitor the benefits of your management program. You can write a diary, take notes on a calendar or download a simple self-assessment form by clicking on the link below. You can call me any time and leave a message if the phone is unattended, and I will get back to you within 24 hours.
You want to keep the cost of treatment low and your quality of life high. Act now, you are only getting older waiting.