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Cancer and cancer treatment can cause different types of swelling. It may be called edema, ascites, or lymphedema depending on the area affected and what is causing the swelling. It's important to know what kind of swelling you have or are at risk for so it can be managed or avoided.


Lymphedema is a build-up of lymph fluid in the fatty tissues just under your skin. This build-up might cause swelling and discomfort. It often happens in the arms or legs, but can also happen in the face, neck, trunk, abdomen (belly), or genitals.

Swelling, edema and ascites

Swelling or edema is a build-up of fluid in the tissues. This can be caused by retaining salt and water because of certain medicines. It can also be a sign of heart, liver, or kidney damage or failure. Other causes might include surgery, infection, poor nutrition, tumor growth, or a blockage.

Ascites is excess fluid buildup in the belly (abdomen) because of pressure from tumors. It can make the belly hard and swollen (distended).