Medifocus Guidebook on Lymphedema

A Comprehensive Patient Guide to Symptoms, Treatment, Research, and Support

Updated: July 1, 2021
205 Pages


What is Lymphedema?

The lymphatic system consists of a network of lymph nodes and lymphatic channels that are located throughout the body's tissues. This complex network of interconnected vessels collects, drains and filters fluid called lymph from the tissues and delivers the filtered fluid back into the circulatory system. The lymphatic system is also rich in specialized white blood cells know as lymphocytes that help the body fight infections. Any type of insult or injury to the lymphatic system that interferes with and blocks the normal flow of lymph can lead to the development of lymphedema.

Lymphedema is a progressive, often debilitating condition that occurs as a result of the obstruction of the lymphatic vessels which leads to the accumulation of fluid and causes swelling of the affected area of the body. Although lymphedema can develop in any area where the normal flow of lymph fluid has been interrupted, it is most commonly observed in the extremities (arms and legs). The severity of lymphedema can range from a mild enlargement of a limb to severe, massive swelling. As the swelling progresses, it can become difficult to fit clothing of jewelry onto the affected area. Eventually, the increased size and weight can disfigure the limb and lead to reduced function of the limb that can severely impact normal activities of daily living. When left untreated, lymphedema may lead to potentially serious complications including recurrent skin infections, inflammation of the lymphatic vessels, and abnormally thick, scaly skin.

Two types of lymphedema have been recognized:

  • Primary lymhedema - a rare congenital condition most commonly caused by a genetic mutation in which the lymphatic vessels are either absent or are abnormal. Primary lymphedema is estimated to affect about 1 in 100,000 individuals.
  • Secondary lymphedema - this is the most common form of the disease, affecting about 1 in 1,000 Americans. Secondary lymphedema develops as a result of the blockage or obstruction of the lymphatic system. The condition is most likely to occur following radiation therapy or surgery for breast, head and neck, or gynecological cancers, particularly in those cancer patients who undergo more extensive surgical lymph node dissection.

Over the past decade, a wide range of treatment options have emerged for the management of patients suffering from lymphedema. Typically, the treatment plan for people with lymphedema is individualized for each patient taking into consideration factors such as the location and severity of the disease, whether or not any lymphedema-related complications are present, and the patient's overall health. The psychological impact of lymphedema can be enormous, as patients must deal with unsightly skin changes, limb disfigurement, and disability. This can contribute to a negative body image, feelings of embarrassment, and social isolation. It is, therefore, recommended that a mental health professional be included as an integral part of the overall treatment team.

The primary goals of treatment for lymphedema are as follows:

  • Control swelling and any other lymphedema -related symptoms.
  • Promote the flow of lymph fluid through the unaffected lymphatic channels.
  • Prevent lymphedema-associated complications from developing.
  • Help patients to better cope with any phychogogical and social issues that may arise as a consequence of living with lymphedema.
  • Improve the patient's quality of life to the highest level possible.

Overcoming the Fear of the Unknown

At, we understand that a diagnosis of lymphedema can be a stressful, life-altering event. Like most people who have received this diagnosis, you've probably never heard of lymphedema before and are overwhelmed with questions about this condition. Processing the news of your diagnosis can send you on an emotional roller coaster and lead to fear, anxiety, despair, and a feeling that you'll never be able to cope. It can literally disrupt all aspects of your life!

Mental health professionals note that the negative emotional responses that often accompany a diagnosis of a serious or chronic disease/condition stem from the fear and uncertainty of what may lie ahead. This phenomenon is known as "fear of the unknown", which is defined as the tendency to be afraid of something you don't know anything about because of a lack of prior experience or exposure. When it involves a serious health issue, such as lymphedema, the underlying cause of fear of the unknown is a lack of prior information about the condition. Without access to accurate, trustworthy information, you can't properly evaluate your situation and you can't devise a plan of action to help you better cope with your condition. As a result, your anxiety level continues to rise from a feeling that you can't control your circumstances.

To overcome the fear and uncertainty that often develops as a consequence of a serious medical diagnosis, psychologists recommend that patients confront their situation directly by doing research about their specific illness and learn as much as they can about their condition. By arming yourself with accurate, reliable information, you'll be in a much better position to take control of your situation and make more informed healthcare decisions. If you're willing to take this step, we're here to help you. That's why we created the Medifocus Guidebook on Lymphedema.

Medifocus Guidebook on Lymphedema

In recent years, advances in both basic and clinical research have led to a more comprehensive understanding of lymphedema and paved the way for the development of improved methods for the management of patients suffering with this disorder. The Medifocus Guidebook on Lymphedema captures and summarizes these advances in knowledge within a single, one-of-a-kind book that you won't find in any other single resource. Organized in a logical, easy to use format, the Guidebook imparts vitally important information that includes the following aspects of lymphedema:

  • The known causes of lymphedema and risk factors that can increase a person's likelihood for developing the condition.
  • A detailed overview of lymphedema of the arms, legs, head and neck, and genital area that develops following radiation therapy or surgery for breast cancer, head and neck cancer, and various gynecological malignancies.
  • How lymphedema is diagnosed based on a combination of clinical factors such as signs and symptoms, patient history, physical examination, and imaging studies.
  • A review of other medical conditions that can cause symptoms mimicking lymphedema and must be considered as part of the differential diagnosis in patients suspected of having lymphedema.
  • A detailed discussion of the potentially serious complications that may develop as the severity of lymphedema worsens.
  • A comprehensive overview of the role of complete decongestive physiotherapy (CDP) in the management of patients with lymphedema including:
    • skin and nail care
    • manual lymphatic drainage
    • compressive bandaging
    • exercise therapy
  • The surgical treatment options available to patients with lymphedema whose condition has not responded adequately to conservative treatments. These surgical options include:
    • excisional (debulking) surgery
    • liposuction
    • reconstructive and derivative microsurgery
  • A detailed discussion of important quality of life issues affecting patients with lymphedema, including its impact on the physical, psychological, social, and economic aspects of living daily with the condition.
  • An extensive bibliography of references from recent medical literature published in reputable journals dealing with the latest advances and developments for lymphedema. Includes links to the summaries of all articles.
  • A valuable directory with the names and locations of healthcare professionals, medical centers*, and **research institutions with a specialized focus on patients with lymphedema.
  • A listing of organizations and support groups whose purpose is to help patients suffering with lymphedema by providing access to additional information, resources, and other services.

More Details about the Lymphedema Guidebook

  • Last updated on July 1, 2021. 205 Pages.
  • Available in both PRINT (soft-cover book) and DIGITAL (PDF download) formats, each at a special 20% Discount. The choice is up to you.
  • When you order the soft-cover Guidebook at the discounted price of $38.25 (which includes Shipping & Handling), you receive access to the PDF download at no additional cost (a $22.35 value).
  • With your purchase, you also receive free Guidebook updates for 1-year.
  • The Guidebook comes with our 100% Risk-Free Guarantee.
  • Order online or over the phone by calling us toll-free at 1-800-965-3002 or 1-301-649-9300.
  • For more information, download the Free Guidebook Preview
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Medifocus Guidebook on Lymphedema

Updated: July 1, 2021
205 Pages

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What Our Customers Are Saying...

"Lymphedema is a rare condition... and my specific type of lymphedema (congenital lymphedema) is even more rare. Your Guidebook covered the recommendations for treatment with a thoroughness I've seen nowhere else. Thank you for taking the time to offer current information about Lymphedema that empowers me to take control of my health care."
Grand Rapids, Michigan


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