If you have lymph nodes removed from the pelvis as part of surgery (a lymphadenectomy), you may find that one or both legs become swollen. This is known as lymphoedema. It can happen if lymph fluid doesn’t circulate properly and builds up in the legs. Radiation therapy in the pelvic area may also cause lymphoedema.
Lymphoedema can make movement and some types of activities difficult. The swelling may appear at the time of treatment or months or years later. It is important to seek help with lymphoedema symptoms as soon as possible because early diagnosis and treatment lead to better outcomes.
For more on this, see our general section on Lymphoedema.
To find a trained lymphoedema practitioner for a treatment plan and ongoing care, you can visit the Australasian Lymphology Association.
Tips for managing lymphoedema
- Manage and reduce the swelling of lymphoedema with gentle exercise, compression stockings and a type of massage called manual lymphatic drainage.
- Keep your skin clean and apply moisturiser every day.
- Protect your skin from cuts, scratches, bites and burns to reduce the risk of infection.
- Check if your state or territory has a compression garment scheme. These schemes cover some, or all, of the cost of a compression garment. For more information, visit the Australasian Lymphology Association.
- Talk to your GP about how a Chronic Disease Management Plan can help you manage the condition.
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