Anatomy and Physiology|
Lymphedema occurs when lymph vessels and nodes become damaged or missing in the lymphatic system. Lymph vessels collect fluid that contain proteins, water, fats, and waste from the cells, once collected these fluids become lymph. The lymph vessels carry the lymph to the lymph nodes and the lymph nodes act as a type of filter (Cancer, 2013). When the lymph vessels and nodes become damage the lymph fluids cannot move freely which cause’s edema. The affected areas are the arms and legs. The two types of Lymphedema are Inherited Lymphedema and Acquired Lymphedema. Inherited lymphedema, you are born without lymph vessels or lymph nodes and symptoms do not developed until adolescence. Acquired lymphedema (secondary lymphedema) is triggered by an injury to the lymphatic system. The most common causes of secondary lymphedema are surgery or radiation treatment for certain types of cancer, such as breast and testicular cancers Other causes of lymphedema include surgery on the blood vessels in your limbs or other surgical procedures, like liposuction, as well as burns (Cancer, 2013).. Some patients develop chronic lymphedema making it more difficult to treat. With chronic lymphedema patients are my likely to develop infection and fibrous skin (Cancer, 2013). As the disease progresses it becomes lymphedema elephantiasis, which is a condition which the tissue becomes extremely swollen and thickened due to a blockage in the flow of lymph. There is no known cure.
http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/lymphedema/Patient/page1 03/2013 retrieved 04/03/2013