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Lymphedema: Home


What Is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is swelling caused by the build-up of fluid in soft body tissues. There are two types of lymphedema:

  • Primary lymphedema is caused by the abnormal development of the lymph system. Symptoms may occur at birth or later in life.
  • Secondary lymphedema is caused by damage to the lymph system. The lymph system may be damaged or blocked by infection, injury, cancer, removal of lymph nodes, radiation to the affected area, or scar tissue from radiation therapy or surgery. 

Lymphedema can occur after any cancer or treatment that affects the flow of lymph through the lymph nodes. It may develop within days or many years after treatment. Lymphedema usually affects an arm or leg, but it can also affect other parts of the body. 

This InfoGuide focuses primarily on cancer related secondary lymphedema.

Source: National Cancer Institute - Lymphedema

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Cancer can involve significant psychological, social, and economic challenges for patients and their families. How and if these challenges are addressed is an important aspect of a patient’s care plan. The Ridley-Tree Cancer Center employs clinical social workers who provide emotional and practical support for patients, their families, and their friends. Oncology Social Workers can provide advocacy and referrals as well as individual and family counseling services.

Services are available at no cost and are available to anyone in our community, regardless of where they are receiving medical care. 

For more information, call (805) 879-5690.  


Swedish - Lymphedema Symptoms and Treatments - 4:45 minutes

An oncology nurse navigator shares what cancer survivors need to know about lymphedema.


Cancer Support Community Los Angeles - Lymphedema After Treatment for Breast Cancer with Dr. Ashley Marumoto and Dr. Stephanie Angarita. 47:19 minutes


Lymphedema Education & Research Network - Living With Lymphedema - 58:30 minutes

Sheila H. Ridner, PhD, RN, FAAN, talks about how to come to terms with your lymphedema and the steps to take to live a fulfilling life. This talk is a part of the LE&RN Symposium series which provides education on the prevention, diagnosis and management of lymphatic disease. Click here to access the full library of videos.


MD Anderson Cancer Center - Lymphedema management: Manual lymph drainage for lower extremities - 8:20 minutes

The following special treatment guidelines apply to treatment with Manual Lymph Drainage of the Lower Extremities and differ from the principle of classic massage.


MD Anderson Cancer Center - Lymphedema management: Manual lymph drainage for upper extremities - 10:00 minutes

The following special treatment guidelines apply to treatment with manual lymph drainage of the upper extremities and differ from the principle of classic massage.

Resources provided by the Cancer Resource Library are for informational purposes only. The information in these materials may or may not apply to your specific condition, and should not be construed as medical advice. We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider to review anything you learn through these resources.

Ridley-Tree Cancer Center provides comprehensive cancer treatment and support programs for patients and families. We are recognized for medical excellence, a strong clinical research program, and a multidisciplinary approach to cancer prevention.

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