Fluid RetentionSymptom Management, Palliative Care, or Supportive Care to relieve side-effects is an important part of cancer care and treatment and should always form part of the overall treatment plan.

Oedema is swelling from excessive accumulation of watery fluid in cells, tissues, or serous cavities in the body. The fluid collects under the skin within the tissues that are outside of the circulatory system, which transports the blood throughout your body.

Oedema most commonly occurs in one’s legs and feet, but it can also occur in one’s arms, hands, face, and abdomen. When oedema occurs in the abdomen, doctors call it ascites. When it occurs around the lungs, doctors call it pleural effusion.

Individuals with oedema may experience:

  • A decrease in urine output
  • Decreased flexibility of the joints in the arms and legs, such as the ankles, wrists, and fingers
  • Indentation when pressing the skin (this does not happen when oedema is severe).
  • Puffiness, swelling, or a heavy feeling
  • Shiny, tight, or stiff skin
  • Sudden or rapid weight gain
  • The feeling that clothes, shoes, or jewellery are too tight

In order to diagnose oedema, your child’s doctor may check whether the skin over the swollen area indents when pressed. They will also probably ask you and/or your child questions about any tightness of clothes or jewellery, recent weight gain, and other symptoms.

Your child’s doctor may also schedule blood and urine tests as well as x-rays to help with the diagnosis.

Oedema management focuses on correcting the underlying cause the build-up of fluid.

Oedema caused by medication or poor nutrition is reversible in some individuals. Oedema caused by cancer or by kidney, heart, or liver problems may be more difficult to treat, and may be permanent in these situations.


Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Oedema on our static page, Fluid Retention (Oedema) in Childhood Cancer


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