Types of Lymphedema- primary, secondary, chronic, genital, leg

Breast, leg, primary, secondary, chonic,lower extremity, genital lymphedema

Lymphedema occurs when your lymph vessels are unable to adequately drain lymph fluid from various areas of your body. It can be classified as either primary or secondary. This means it can occur on its own or it can be caused by another disease or condition.

Primary lymphedema

Primary lymphedema is a rare, inherited condition caused by problems with the development of lymph vessels in your body. Primary lymphedema occurs most frequently in women and usually affects the legs, rather than the arms. Specific causes of primary lymphedema include:

■ Milroy disease (congenital lymphedema). This is an inherited disorder that begins in infancy and causes a malformation of the lymph nodes, leading to lymphedema.

■ Meige disease (lymphedema praecox). This hereditary disorder causes lymphedema in childhood or around puberty. It causes lymph vessels to form without the valves that keep lymph fluid from flowing backwards, making it difficult for the body to properly drain the lymph fluid from limbs.

■ Late-onset lymphedema (lymphedema tarda). This occurs rarely and usually begins after age 35.

Causes of Secondary LymphedemaAny condition or procedure that damages lymph nodes or lymph vessels can cause lymphedema. Causes include:

■ Surgery can cause lymphedema to develop if lymph nodes and lymph vessels are removed or severed. For instance, surgery for breast cancer may include the removal of one or more lymph nodes in the armpit to look for evidence that cancer has spread. If remaining lymph nodes and lymph vessels can't compensate for those that have been removed, lymphedema may result in the arm.

■ Radiation treatment for cancer can cause scarring and inflammation of the lymph nodes or lymph vessels, restricting flow of the lymph.

■ Cancer cells can cause lymphedema if they block lymphatic vessels. For instance, a tumor growing near a lymph node or lymph vessel could become large enough to obstruct the flow of the lymph fluid.

■ Infection can infiltrate lymph vessels and lymph nodes, restricting the flow of lymph fluid and causing lymphedema. Parasites also can block lymph vessels. Infection-related lymphedema is most common in tropical and subtropical regions of the globe and is more likely to occur in undeveloped countries.

■ Injury that damages your lymph nodes or lymph vessels also can cause lymphedema.