Lymphedema is the build-up of fluid in soft body tissues. The condition occurs when lymph is not able to flow through the body the way that it should. When part of the lymph system is damaged or blocked, fluid cannot drain from nearby body tissues. Fluid builds up in the tissues and causes swelling. In cancer survivors, lymphedema is caused when the lymph system is damaged or blocked by infection, injury, cancer, removal of lymph nodes, radiation to the affected area, or scar tissue from radiation therapy or surgery.
by Linda Graviss, MT, CIC, and Roy Chemaly, MD, MPH, FIDSA, FACP
Did you know that your body’s number-one defense against infections is often compromised when you have cancer? Both chemotherapy and radiation therapy can weaken your immune system, lessening its ability to put up a good fight against the germs that cause infections. Moreover, surgery and other medical procedures break or damage the skin – your body’s primary infection defense – increasing your risk for developing infection.
by Lisa Kolp, MD
When you hear the news that you have cancer, you may feel as if your life is spinning out of your control. You wonder whether you will survive. And what about all the side effects of cancer treatment? Will you be able to manage them? Then your doctor drops another bomb, sending your sense of control hurtling even further from your reach: the treatments intended to save your life may leave you infertile.
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