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Lymphoedema is a swelling that develops as a result of an impaired lymphatic system. This may be as a result of the lymphatic system not developing properly, or through damage or trauma (see section on types of lymphoedema). It can affect any part of the body but is most commonly seen in an arm or a leg. Although thought to be relatively uncommon, a recent study has estimated that at least 100,000 people may be affected by this condition. In order to understand how lymphoedema occurs, it is important to have an understanding of the lymphatic system in general - what it is and how it works.