Lymphoedema is swelling that develops because of a build-up of fluid in the body’s tissues. This happens when the lymphatic system, which normally drains fluid away, isn’t working properly.

You can read more about the lymphatic system by clicking on the button.

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Why Does Lymphoedema Happen?

Lymphoedema can occur following surgery or radiotherapy to the groin area.

Radiotherapy or surgery to the lymph nodes may compromise drainage of the lymph fluid and this can cause lymph fluid to accumulate without being able to drain away normally.

Occasionally, lymphoedema can cause the scrotum or penis to swell.

Lymphoedema needs to be managed by a specialist health care team. Treatment may involve gentle massage of the surrounding lymph nodes in the groin or abdomen to help promote the normal flow of lymph fluid. Treatment may be given over several months supportive surgical dressings may be used.

Managing Lymphoedema

  • Try to avoid scratches or bites on your legs from insects or pets. Use insect repellent and keep vulnerable areas covered. If you do get a cut or scratch, no matter how small, wash it with soap and water and use an antiseptic cream such as Savlon to prevent infection. If the area becomes red, painful or swollen, see your GP.
  • Avoid sunburn to the area. If the area is to be exposed to strong sunlight, try to cover it and use a high factor sun cream.
  • Avoid extremes of temperature to the area.
  • If you need to shave your leg for any reason, use an electric razor rather than a wet shave.
  • Avoid inoculations and injections in the affected leg or legs. This includes complementary treatments such as acupuncture.
  • Avoid wearing tight garments that may restrict blood flow.
  • Watch your weight before and after your operation, not just in the short term.
  • Avoid standing for excessive periods of time.
  • Try to remember to move your legs every so often and avoid keeping them crossed for long periods of time.

For more advice on managing lymphoedema please see:

We are here to support you as you recover from penile cancer treatment. Do contact us if you would like to ask any practical questions and for support.

Speak to one of our nurses
0808 802 0010