The Lymphoedema Team at Teesside Hospice treats cancer and non-cancer related lymphoedema – a chronic (long-term) condition that causes swelling in the body’s tissues. It can affect any part of the body, but usually develops in the arms or legs. Other symptoms of lymphoedema can include an aching, heavy feeling in affected body parts and difficulty moving them. Lymphoedema can get worse if it’s not treated, so you should speak to a doctor if you think you may have lymphoedema.
What causes lymphoedema?
Lymphoedema is caused by a problem with the lymphatic system. This is a network of vessels and glands distributed throughout the body. Its major functions are helping to fight infection and drain excess fluid from tissues. Abnormal development of the lymphatic system, damage to it, and/or an increase in fluid in the body tissues can all lead to lymphoedema.
There are two main types of lymphoedema:
Primary Lymphoedema – caused by faulty genes affecting the development of the lymphatic system; it can develop at any age, but usually occurs in early adulthood.
Secondary Lymphoedema – caused by damage to the lymphatic system or problems with the movement and drainage of fluid in the lymphatic system, often due to an infection, injury, cancer and/or cancer treatments, inflammation of the limb, lack of limb movement or obesity.
Who is affected?
A recent study has suggested that over 200,000 people in the UK may be living with lymphoedema. Secondary lymphoedema has been shown to affect approximately 1 in 5 women after breast cancer treatment. Primary lymphoedema is less common than secondary lymphoedema and is estimated to affect around 1 in every 6,000 people.
How is lymphoedema treated?
There is no cure for lymphoedema, but it is usually possible to control the main symptoms using the following 4 elements or cornerstones of treatment:
In addition, patients are encouraged to eat well, maintain a healthy weight and be more active.
Clinic opening times
Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm excluding bank holidays
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