The main symptom of head and neck lymphedema is swelling. Lymphedema often arises between two and six months after cancer treatment. This is usually beyond the time that normal post-treatment swelling or inflammation is expected.
Lymphedema can impact breathing, speaking, swallowing and neck mobility. It can also alter the appearance of the face and neck which can be distressing.
Often, the first sign of lymphedema is a feeling of 'heaviness' in the affected area. At later stages, obvious swelling, which may fluctuate throughout the day, may be present. In severe cases, the swelling can be hard and constant.