A randomized trial on the effect of exercise mode on breast cancer-related lymphedema

Buchan, Jena, Janda, Monika, Box, Robyn, Schmitz, Kathryn, & Hayes, Sandra (2016) A randomized trial on the effect of exercise mode on breast cancer-related lymphedema. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (MSSE), 48(10), pp. 1866-1874.

[img] Accepted Version (PDF 129kB)
Administrators only until October 2017 | Request a copy from author

View at publisher



  • Breast cancer-related lymphedema is a common and debilitating side effect of cancer treatment. This randomized trial compared the effect of progressive resistance- or aerobic-based exercise on breast cancer-related lymphedema extent and severity, as well as participants' muscular strength and endurance, aerobic fitness, body composition, upper-body function and quality of life.


  • Women with a clinical diagnosis of stable unilateral, upper-limb lymphedema secondary to breast cancer were randomly allocated to a resistance- (n=21) or aerobic-based (n=20) exercise group (12-week intervention). Women were assessed pre-, post- and 12 weeks post-intervention, with generalised estimating equation models used to compare over time changes in each group's lymphedema (two-tailed p<0.05).


  • Lymphedema remained stable in both groups (as measured by bioimpedance spectroscopy and circumferences), with no significant differences between groups noted in lymphedema status. There was a significant (p<0.01) time by group effect for upper-body strength (assessed using 4-6 repetition maximum bench press), with the resistance-based exercise group increasing strength by 4.2 kg (3.2, 5.2) post-intervention compared to 1.2 kg (-0.1, 2.5) in the aerobic-based exercise group. Although not supported statistically, the aerobic-based exercise group reported a clinically relevant decline in number of symptoms post-intervention (-1.5 [-2.6, -0.3]), and women in both exercise groups experienced clinically meaningful improvements in lower-body endurance, aerobic fitness and quality of life by 12-week follow-up.


  • Participating in resistance- or aerobic-based exercise did not change lymphedema status, but led to clinically relevant improvements in function and quality of life, with findings suggesting that neither mode is superior with respect to lymphoedema impact. As such, personal preferences, survivorship concerns and functional needs are important and relevant considerations when prescribing exercise mode to those with secondary lymphedema.

Impact and interest:

1 citations in Scopus
Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

ID Code: 98137
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000988
ISSN: 0195-9131
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2016 American College of Sports Medicine
Deposited On: 17 Aug 2016 04:30
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2016 18:05

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page