Challenge #7

How might we …

raise awareness of early side-effects of lymphedema to patients?



Design adapted clothing for lymphedema patients and for persons risking of developing this incurable disease.

Involved SDG's

#3 – Good health & well-being


  • Dutch
  • English

Problem description

Cancer-diagnosed patients are often ill informed of the post-surgery cancer effects, such as, the lymphedema condition.

Lymphedema refers to swelling that generally occurs in one of your arms or legs. Sometimes both arms or both legs swell.Lymphedema is most commonly caused by the removal of or damage to your lymph nodes as a part of cancer treatment. It results from a blockage in your lymphatic system, which is part of your immune system. The blockage prevents lymph fluid from draining well, and the fluid buildup leads to swelling. If detected and treated at an early stage, lymphedema can be diminished, or be under manageable control.

Main triggers of lymphedema are lymph node dissection, chemotherapy and radiation. 80% of the risk patients develop lymphedema already within the first year after the cancer treatment. Untreated lymphedema can bring serious life-long physical and psychological effects to patients with cancer.

If patients get timely information about the possible consequences of the surgery (that is to develop lymphedema) and receive the right treatment, the success rate (for combating the side-effects of lymphedema) can be higher. Early detection and treatment can have a positive impact on people’s interaction with their family, friends and professional circles after their cancer experience.

All medical staff, e.g., oncologists, gynaecologists, onco nurses, should discuss the risk of getting lymphedema from the moment one gets a cancer diagnosis. These professionals hesitate to tackle the subject from the beginning. Because of the ignorance risk patients can also not take the necessary preventions and end up with lymphedema while this could have been avoided in many cases.

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students are working on this challenge

What has been done already?

By creating adapted clothing I already wanted to draw the attention to the problem and create more awareness.

More attention for this disease will hopefully motivate risk patients of taking more preventions and consequently avoid getting this chronic disease.

What are the next steps?

Collaboration and discussions with medical staff and patients about the type of activities that are best for this problem.

Expected outcome

For instance developing flyers, booklets, or other informative material that medical staff can use for bringing up the subject without intimidating patients.