Lymphoedema refers to the chronic swelling of a body part which is caused by the accumulation of fluid and protein in the tissue spaces.
Due to a disruption in the lymphatic system, some cancer treatments can cause lymphoedema; this is called secondary lymphoedema. Secondary lymphoedema can occur any time following cancer treatment, but the most common presentation is within the first two years following treatment.
Patients with a cancer history may develop lymphoedema because of:
- Surgical removal of lymph nodes
- Radiotherapy disturbance of lymph nodes
- Tumours blocking or compressing the lymphatic pathways
- Inflammation within the lymph vessels
Information for cancer survivors and their families
- Cancer Council factsheet: Understanding lymphoedema
- Cancer Australia: Lymphoedema: What you need to know
- Australasian Lymphology Association: State-based support groups
- Let’s Talk Lymphoedema education sessions:
Peter Mac patients, family members and carers are welcome to join us for a one hour chat and Q&A session with one of our Physiotherapists, about Lymphoedema.
Information for health professionals
- Australian Lymphology Association website
- Australasian Lymphology Association (2006): International consensus: Best practice for the management of lymphoedema
- Cancer Australia factsheet: The management of secondary lymphoedema – a guide for health professionals
- Find a practitioner registered as a lymphoedema therapist with the Australian Lymphology Association
- SWEP funding for compression garments:
The Lymphoedema Compression Garment Program (LCGP) assists all Victorians who are diagnosed with primary, secondary, or sub-clinical lymphoedema by providing financial assistance to eligible consumers for the purchase of compression garments and wraps.