What is lymphoedema?

Chronic Oedema/Lymphoedema is a chronic swelling that can affect any area of the body but usually the arms and legs. It develops when the lymphatic system does not work properly. This can have an impact on a person’s physical, psychological and social wellbeing. The sooner you treat this, the better outcomes for the patient.

In  early 2019 the Macmillan Greater Manchester Lymphoedema Programme was set up as a two year programme to understand the needs of people at risk of and affected by Lymphoedema across Greater Manchester.

There are two types of lymphoedema.

Primary Lymphoedema – which is heredity/ congenital.

Secondary Lymphoedema – which is casued by overload, blockage or damage to lymphatic system. It can be the result of a cancer treatment, an infection, injury, inflammation of the limb, or a lack of limb movement.

The project ended in December 2020.  It was agreed that Greater Manchester would strive towards a Lymphoedema System Approach to ensure consistency and accessibility to treatment for chronic oedema/lymphoedema. Resources developed as part of this project are available on this page.

A recent study showed that approximately 1 in 7 cancer patients will develop lymphedema (by Rockson et al 2019) – Cancer-associated secondary lymphoedema

A visual list of cancer-associated secondary lymphoedema including palliative & end of life, cancer and its treatment, increasing age, vascular, immobility, trauma, obesity and cellulitis.

The project was required to:

  • Gather information about what lymphoedema were available and examples of good services

  • Write a Gap Analysis Report

  • Develop a Greater Manchester approach for all lymphoedema

  • Work with the commissioners and services to inform what changes are need to achieve the GM Lymphoedema approach

  • Support CCGs with information if required for business cases for additional funding

  • Work with services to develop tools to help transform their services and people at risk of lymphoedema

The approach would ensure Greater Manchester to have a cost effective, pro-active and sustainable delivery of lymphoedema that

  • Identifies people at risk, regardless of the cause of their lymphoedema

  • Supports self- management

  • Reduces co- morbidities caused by lymphoedema

  • Provides timely assessment and treatment for chronic oedema/lymphoedema

Our patient stories

Click each of the titles to view the full story

Text reading 'Rick's story' and a selfie image of Rick with his family
Text reading 'Andrew'
Text reading 'Janet's story' with an image of her smiling
Text reading 'Noreen's story' with an image of her smiling
Text reading 'Nina's story' with an image of Nina
Text reading 'Liz's story' with an image of Liz
Text reading 'Judith's story' with an image of Judith


If you need any information from this page in a different format please contact us using gmcancer.admin@nhs.net.

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