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Lymphedema

Lymphedema Overview

Lymphedema is swelling in one or more of the arms or legs that arises due to damage or poor function of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a network of vessels that course throughout the body to collect excess fluid as well as waste products. The fluid is filtered at the lymph nodes, which are important in fighting infection and are a key part of the lymphatic system. Eventually, the excess fluid removed from the tissues is drained into the bloodstream.

Lymphedema most commonly affects one of the extremities only, but in some cases both arms or both legs are affected. Estimates suggest that 140 to 250 million people worldwide suffer from lymphedema.

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