Lymphedema Management

Lymphedema is the swelling of the arm, leg, trunk or face due to an accumulation of lymph (protein-rich fluid) in the interstitial space of the
body parts. It is usually caused by an overloading of the impaired lymphatic system after removal of lymph node in surgery or skin damage after
radiotherapy during cancer treatments.


Physiotherapy Management

A. Manual Lymph Drainage

A specialised light-touch technique which drains excessive lymph fluid to other body area.

B. Multi-layer Bandaging
Use short-stretch bandages to produce high working pressure to reduce lymphedema.
Physiotherapists specialised in Combined Decongestive Therapy (CDT) in which they are certified to provide Manual Lymph Drainage and Multi-layer Bandaging treatment for lymphedema patients.

C. Compression Garment
Physiotherapists will give advice on the suitable compression garment according to patients' needs

D. Precautions for Prevention and Early Detection of Lymphedema
Upper Limb and Lower Limb Fact sheet

E. Exercise Therapy
  • Supervised range of motion exercise for the affected joint
  • Breathing exercise
  • Avoid rapid, forceful and repetitive movement from the affected limbs
  • Modify training program is needed
Incidence Rate of Lymphedema in Different Types of Cancers
Types of cancerNo of studies/patientsIncidence
Melanoma15 studies1-66%
 3676 patientsUL: 5.1%
  LL: 28%
Genitourniary8 studiessPenile:21%
-Penile, prostate and bladder1060 patientsProstate: 4%
  Bladder: 16%
Gynecological22 studiesCervical 27%
-Cervical, vulvar and endometrial2850 patientsVulvar: 30%
  Endometrial 1%
Head and Neck2 studies4%
 139 patients 
Breast30 studies21.40%