Leg Swelling After Cancer Treatment: What Can You Do?

June 11, 2019
Claire Smith, ASCO staff

Lymphedema is the abnormal buildup of fluid in soft tissue that happens when the lymphatic system is blocked. Certain types of cancer treatment can damage the lymphatic system and increase the chances of developing lymphedema. While people may be most familiar with lymphedema in the arm after breast cancer treatment, lymphedema can occur in other parts of the body after treatment for other cancers. For instance, some cancer treatment can lead to lymphedema in the legs, particularly treatment that targets the groin.

In this podcast, 2 lymphedema specialists from Mayo Clinic, Andrea Cheville, MD, and Jenny Bradt, PT, DPT, CLT-LANA, explain the basics of lymphedema and discuss important things to know about preventing and managing lymphedema in the legs.share on twitter

  • What is the lymphatic system and what is its role in removing waste and protecting the body from infection? [2:27]

  • How can treatment for cancer affect the lymphatic system and increase the risk of developing lymphedema? [5:04]

  • When do symptoms of lymphedema usually appear? [5:42]

  • What are some of the early symptoms or signs of lymphedema to watch for? [7:04]

  • What are some things people can do to reduce their risk of developing leg lymphedema after cancer treatment? [9:00]

  • How is leg lymphedema treated? What is the goal of treatment? [13:12]

  • What are some things to watch for after a lymphedema diagnosis? [19:36]

  • What is important to know about finding and working with a lymphedema therapist? [21:52]

Dr. Cheville is the Director of Cancer Rehabilitation and Lymphedema Services in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic. Jenny Bradt is a LANA-Certified Lymphedema Therapist and Clinical Lead Physical Therapist in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic.

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