Sometimes lymph nodes or vessels are damaged, blocked or removed. This makes it is harder for lymph fluid to drain. The fluid can then build up between the tissues and cause swelling.
Sometimes, cancer or its treatment can damage or block lymph nodes or vessels. Once this happens, it is not possible to repair them. Or, doctors may need to remove the lymph nodes completely during treatment. This means, if lymphoedema develops, it cannot be cured. Part of the treatment for lymphoedema is learning things you can do to manage it yourself. It is usually possible to reduce the swelling if it is diagnosed and treated early, but it does not go completely. This is known as a chronic condition.
Sometimes, if the swelling is small and treatment starts early, the area can return to normal size. You still need to follow advice from your specialist to reduce the risk of the swelling coming back.
There are things you can do to reduce the risk of lymphoedema developing.