“The lymphatic system is fundamentally important to cardiovascular disease, infection and immunity, cancer, and probably obesity—the four major challenges in health care in the 21st century.”
– Drs. Peter Mortimer and Stanley Rockson
Mortimer, PS, Rockson SG. New developments in clinical aspects of lymphatic disease. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, Volume 124, Number 3, March 2014.
IT’S TIME TO START RECOGNIZING LYMPHEDEMA
LE is a permanent condition that can worsen over time if not properly treated; there currently is no cure. When untreated, LE can become painful and debilitating. The symptoms of LE can be managed however, and patients who are educated about effective lymphedema treatment options can improve their quality of life.
Causes of Lymphedema
Primary LE may be caused by malformations of the lymphatic system present at birth (congenital) and can be passed from parent to child (hereditary). Although primary LE has largely been attributed to genetic causes, lymphedema is also classified as primary when no known cause can be identified. Other primary LE diagnoses include:
- Milroy’s Disease (present at birth)
- Lymphedema Praecox (begins in adolescence; appears during puberty, mostly in females)
- May-Thurner syndrome (also known as the iliac vein compression syndrome and usually affects females in the left lower leg)
- Lymphedema Tarda (begins after 35 years of age; occurs in both male and female adults; onset is sudden with no apparent cause and can affect one or both extremities)
Secondary lymphedema is more common. It is the result of an identifiable disruption of the lymphatic system, such as:
- Chronic venous insufficiency
- Cancer treatments (removal of lymph nodes and/or radiation therapy)
- Benign or malignant tumor growth
- Filariasis (parasitic)