Other lymphoedema locations

15/05/2018

While health professionals are today very familiar with lymphoedema of the arm after breast cancer or of the lower limbs and routinely treat these conditions, lymphoedema can also affect the head, genitals or breasts in rarer cases.

Lymphoedema of the face, head or neck

This is usually a complication of an ENT cancer or its treatments. It can cause feelings of tightness, heaviness or numbness and also impede neck mobility. Local lymphatic drainage and gentle compression therapy using bandages begun before discharge from hospital help reduce oedema and soften the skin.

Lymphoedema of the genitals

This can occur following treatment for a cancer located in the pelvic region:

  • cancers of the bladder or rectum;
  • lymphoma;
  • cervical, endometrial or ovarian cancers in women;
  • prostate cancer in men.

In men, the lymphoedema affects the testicles or penis and in women, the vulva or pubis.

This lymphoedema is liable to cause discomfort and feelings of heaviness and impede walking and may be associated with skin lesions. Treatments include the application of bandages, the wearing of compression briefs or pants and manual lymphatic drainage. Surgery may help reduce excessive volumes.

Lymphoedema of the breast

This should not be confused with lymphoedema of the arm following breast cancer although it may develop following treatment for breast cancer. The affected breast is swollen, soft and red. Treatment for this type of lymphoedema is based on lymphatic drainage sessions and, if necessary, the application of a light compression bandage to the breast affected.

Documentary sources
European Wound Management Association (EWMA). Focus Document: Lymphoedema bandaging in practice. London: MEP Ltd, 2005. Purcell A. Head and neck lymphoedema management practices Journal of Lymphoedema, 2013, Vol 8, No 2 Jie Deng et al. : Differences of symptoms in head and neck cancer patients with and without lymphedema. Support Care Cancer, 2016, 24:1305–1316 Vignes S, Trévidic P : Lymphœdèmes génitaux. Journal des Maladies Vasculaires. Vol 40, N° 2, mars 2015, pp. 108-109 Rönkä HR, Pamilo MS, von Smitten AJ, Leidenius MHK : Breast lymphedema after breast conserving treatment, Acta Oncologica, 2004, 43:6,551-557