Coping with Lymphedema in Childhood Cancer
Symptom Management, Palliative Care, or Supportive Care to relieve side-effects is an important part of cancer care and treatment and should always form part of the overall treatment plan.
Lymphedema is the abnormal build-up of fluid in soft tissue due to a blockage in the lymphatic system (the interconnected system of spaces and vessels between body tissues and organs by which lymph circulates throughout the body).
The lymphatic system helps fight infection and other diseases by carrying lymph, a colourless fluid containing white blood cells, throughout the body using a network of thin tubes called vessels. Small glands called lymph nodes filter bacteria and other harmful substances out of this fluid. However, when the lymph nodes are removed or damaged, lymphatic fluid collects in the surrounding tissues, causing them to swell.
Lymphedema most often occurs in the arms and legs, but can also occur in other parts of the body such as the head and neck, including below the chin, in the face, and, less often, inside the mouth. Lymphedema may develop immediately after surgery or radiation therapy, or it may only occur months or even years after cancer treatment has ended.
Symptoms of lymphedema may begin very gradually and are not always easy to detect. Sometimes the only symptoms may be heaviness or aching in an arm or leg. However, lymphedema may also occur suddenly.
If your child develops any symptoms of lymphedema, you should speak to their doctor as soon as possible to learn how the symptoms can be managed so the lymphedema does not get worse. Because swelling may be a sign of cancer, it is also important to see your child’s doctor to be sure the cancer has not come back (recurred).
Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Lymphedema on our static page, Lymphedema in Childhood Cancer
Posted on 23 June, 2016, in Blog and tagged cancer, Child Cancer Awareness, childhood cancer, Children with Cancer, Fighting Cancer, Little Fighters Cancer Trust, Lymphedema, side effects. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.