Building-up of lymph fluid in the fatty tissues just under your skin is known as Lymphedema which can cause swelling, usually in the arms or legs. It can also affect other parts of the body that has been treated for cancer like the face, neck, abdomen, and genitals.
Lymphedema is likely a side effect of radiation therapy or removal/damage to your lymph nodes as a part of cancer treatment that can occur in some people during or after the treatment mainly resulting from a blockage in your lymphatic system, which is part of your immune system. This blockage prevents lymph fluid from draining properly, and building up of fluids leads to swelling. It can be categorized into primary lymphedema and secondary lymphedema.
Primary lymphedema is genetic disorder in which people are born with abnormalities in the lymphatic system impacting any part of the body and may involve swelling in multiple limbs or body parts.
Secondary lymphedema may develop immediately or even months to years later as result of damage to the lymphatic system after cancer treatment .It can caused from surgery, trauma, radiation or infection.
Common symptoms of lymphedema are swelling (of effected part of the body like leg, arm, belly), changing texture of the skin, itching, numbness, tingling, or discomfort, less flexibility in nearby joints(like hand, ankle, wrist). It can be diagnosed by MRI scan, CT scan, Doppler ultrasound scan, lymphoscintigraphy. There is no such cure for lymphedema but it can be managed with early diagnosis and proper care of your affected limb.
Compression treatments such as elastic sleeves or stockings, bandages, phenumatic compression devices, manual compression like massage and exercise can help in reducing the swelling and prevent scarring and other complications.