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What is lymphedema?

Simply explained, lymphedema is swelling that won’t go away.

More precisely, lymphedema is a chronic, inflammatory condition characterized by the accumulation of excess protein-rich fluid in the interstitium.

It is caused by:

  • A lymphatic anomaly (primary lymphedema)
  • Damage to lymphatic vessels (secondary lymphedema, e.g., due to trauma such as cancer treatment)
  • Obesity and chronic venous disease (secondary chronic lymphatic overload)

Note: In the case of lymphedema of the lower limbs, several causes often coexist.

Consult your healthcare professional to determine your actual risk.

When trauma (radiotherapy, surgery, accident, or illness) is the cause, lymphedema most often appears in the first two years following the trauma, but the risk remains present for life. 

If you can do something about the cause of the risk of lymphedema (venous insufficiency, severe obesity, prolonged immobilization), we encourage you to talk to your healthcare team right away to get the best advice.

If you are at risk of lymphedema due to trauma.
Assess your risk of developing lymphedema

Consult your healthcare professional to validate your actual risk.

© Association québécoise du lymphœdème.

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