By Laurie Swezey RN, BSN, CWOCN, CWS, FACCWS
Lymphedema can be defined as swelling of one or more limbs which may also include a portion of the corresponding trunk. Lymphedema can also affect the breast, head, neck or genitalia. It occurs when fluid and other components such as protein accumulate in the tissue spaces as a result of a disparity between the creation of interstitial fluid and its transport or movement. It may be caused by damage to the lymphatic system (i.e., as a result of cancer treatment) or as the result of a congenital malformation of the lymphatic system. It is a chronic condition with no cure, but it can be managed if diagnosed early on.