Evidence summary (Updated 2022)
Lower risk of lymphoedema (2 RCTs) were reported from a systematic review(1).
In a recent review of the evidence 7 reviews were shown to have a definite positive effect on the reduction of lymphoedema in breast cancer patients undergoing physical activity or exercise interventions(2–8).
Four of 7 reported on interventions during and post treatment(2–4,6). Three studies reported on improved lymphoedema with PA interventions following cancer treatment(5,7,8).
When considering the intervention type studies considered multiple or combination physical activity/exercise interventions(6,7). Combined aerobic and anaerobic activities were evaluated(3). Other individual interventions shown to be effective included anaerobic/resistance training(2,8), Nordic walking(4), and Yoga(5).
Quality of evidence
B – Moderate quality
Strength of recommendation
2 – Weak
The benefit of reducing lymphoedema in patients post treatment in breast cancer would be advised however more evidence is needed.
- Furmaniak AC, Menig M, Markes MH. Exercise for women receiving adjuvant therapy for breast cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 9:5001.
- Hasenoehrl T, Palma S, Ramazanova D, Kölbl H, Dorner TE, Keilani M, et al. Resistance exercise and breast cancer-related lymphedema-a systematic review update and meta-analysis. Support Care Cancer [Internet]. 2020 Aug 1 [cited 2022 Oct 13];28(8):3593–603. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32415386/
- Schutz S, Aidar FJ, Souza RLM, dos Santos JL, Voltarelli FA, Vieira Junior RC, et al. Different Methods of Physical Training Applied to Women Breast Cancer Survivors: A Systematic Review. Front Physiol [Internet]. 2021 Apr 14 [cited 2022 Oct 12];12. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33935799/
- Sánchez-Lastra MA, Torres J, Martínez-Lemos I, Ayán C. Nordic walking for women with breast cancer: A systematic review. Eur J Cancer Care (Engl) [Internet]. 2019 Nov 1 [cited 2022 Oct 10];28(6). Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31389108/
- Wei CW, Wu YC, Chen PY, Chen PE, Chi CC, Tung TH. Effectiveness of Yoga Interventions in Breast Cancer-Related lymphedema: A systematic review. Complement Ther Clin Pract [Internet]. 2019 Aug 1 [cited 2022 Oct 13];36:49–55. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31383443/
- Olsson Möller U, Beck I, Rydén L, Malmström M. A comprehensive approach to rehabilitation interventions following breast cancer treatment – A systematic review of systematic reviews. BMC Cancer. 2019 May 20;19(1).
- Baumann FT, Reike A, Reimer V, Schumann M, Hallek M, Taaffe DR, et al. Effects of physical exercise on breast cancer-related secondary lymphedema: a systematic review. Breast Cancer Res Treat [Internet]. 2018 Jul 1 [cited 2022 Oct 10];170(1). Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29470804/
- Naik M, Nayak P, Kumar KD. Effect of Physiotherapy in the Prevention and Relief of Secondary Lymphoedema in Subjects with Postoperative Breast Cancer- A Systematic Review of Randomised Controlled Trials. J Clin DIAGNOSTIC Res [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2022 Oct 13]; Available from: https://web.s.ebscohost.com/abstract?direct=true&profile=ehost&scope=site&authtype=crawler&jrnl=0973709X&AN=150785362&h=we0Egi2guXIk5D3Dltkx1rByzRye0SLHtquCcdwgEO1HdqKkHk%2BJPr%2FO1R1VqGcp0gAnjNdO08jy6aeY9rZFow%3D%3D&crl=c&resultNs=AdminWebAuth&resultLoca