Lymphoedema is swelling that occurs in the soft tissues under the skin due to a build-up of lymph fluid. If lymph nodes have been removed during surgery or damaged by infection, injury, or radiation therapy, the lymph fluid may not drain properly.

Swelling usually occurs in an arm or leg, but it can also affect other areas of the body. The likelihood of developing lymphoedema after treatment depends on the extent of the surgery, other cancer treatment and your body weight. Lymphoedema can take months or years to develop. Not everyone who is at risk will develop it.

Lymphoedema may be permanent, but it can usually be managed, particularly if diagnosed early. The main signs of lymphoedema include visible swelling, which may be associated with feelings of tightness or heaviness, an aching or tingling feeling, not being able to fully move the affected limb, or pitting of the skin.

Lymphoedema requires lifelong self-care and management. The focus of treatment is to improve the flow of lymph fluid through the affected area. This will help reduce swelling and improve the health of the swollen tissue. Reducing the swelling will lower your risk of infection, improve your well-being and make movement easier.

Gentle exercise, compression stockings, and a type of massage called lymphatic drainage can all help to reduce the swelling. It is important that you consult a lymphoedema professional who can tailor a treatment plan for you based on the location and stage of the lymphoedema and any other health conditions you may have.

    — Suzanne

How to prevent and/or manage lymphoedema

  • Treat lymphoedema early so that you can deal with the problem quickly and avoid symptoms becoming worse.
  • Keep the skin healthy and unbroken to reduce the risk of infection. Avoid cuts, scratches, bites and injections in the affected area.
  • Moisturise your skin daily to prevent dry, irritated skin.
  • Engage in activities like swimming, bike-riding or using light weights to aid the flow of lymph fluid.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Protect your skin from the sun.
  • Avoid wearing jewellery or clothing that constricts the affected area or leaves marks on your skin.
  • Take care cutting your toenails or see a podiatrist to look after your feet and nails.
  • Raise your legs if watching TV. Avoid sitting for long periods.
  • Wear a professionally-fitted compression garment, if advised by your lymphoedema practioner.
  • To find a lymphoedema practitioner, see Australasian Lymphology Association, or ask your doctor for a referral.
  • Seek medical help urgently if you think you have an infection in the affected area.
  • For more on this, see Lymphoedema.

Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on Lymphoedema.

Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

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Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

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To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
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Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

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Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
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Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in April 2018
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