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Reducing your risk

If you have had treatment for cancer, you may be concerned about the possibility of developing lymphoedema. Most people who have lymph nodes removed, or who have radiotherapy to the lymph nodes, will not develop lymphoedema.

It is not possible to predict who will develop lymphoedema after cancer treatment. However, there are things you can do that may help to reduce your risk. It is also important to know the early signs of lymphoedema, so that you can discuss them with a health professional.
Some types of cancer treatment are less damaging to the lymphatic system. You should discuss your treatment options with your doctor.

After your cancer treatment, use your affected arm, leg or neck as normally as possible. It is currently unknown whether procedures like blood samples, injections, intraveneous drips or blood pressure monitoring increase the risk of lymphoedema. Therefore, as a precaution, use the unaffected arm or leg for these procedures whenever possible.

Other tips to help reduce your risk of developing lymphoedema include:

Skin care Body care Foot care
Use moisturiser regularly to prevent dry skin Maintain a healthy
Wear shoes when outdoors
Use an electric razor for shaving to avoid cuts Follow a gentle exercise routine Keep your feet clean and dry
Treat scratches, cuts and sores quickly Avoid hot baths, spas and saunas Check for tinea and infections regularly
Avoid tattoos and body piercing Avoid tight clothes or jewellery Avoid ingrown toenails
Avoid burns and sunburns Avoid long periods of inactivity Avoid tight shoes
Protect your skin by wearing gloves for yard work, washing dishes or handling pets Elevate and exercise the affected arm or leg when travelling long distances