The effect of therapeutic exercise in the prevention of lymphoedema secondary to breast cancer: a systematic review
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Department of Nursing, Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy, Castilla La-Mancha University, Toledo, Spain
Submission date: 2020-09-26
Final revision date: 2020-10-14
Acceptance date: 2020-11-04
Online publication date: 2020-12-03
One of the most frequent complications of breast cancer treatment is lymphoedema (LE), with lymphadenectomy and radiotherapy being the main triggers of this pathology in developed countries. The aim of the study was to determine the efficacy of therapeutic exercise in the prevention of upper limb (UL) lymphoedema evaluated through cirtometry, volumetry, or bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS) in women after breast cancer removal surgery.

Material and methods:
The Pubmed, PEDro, and Cochrane databases were consulted up to May 2020, including randomised clinical trials (RCTs) on therapeutic physical exercise as a possible preventive measure against breast cancer-related lymphoedema (BCRL). The studies were requested to have participants with UL lymphoedema and a control group.

A total of 304 articles were found, of which 9 were included (stand-alone studies). A therapeutic exercise program (strength and/or aerobic training) in women who had been surgically intervened for breast cancer may prevent lymphedema, compared to a regular care.

A therapeutic exercise program (strength and/or aerobic training) in women operated on for breast cancer contributes to reducing the number of cases that could obtain a greater difference in volume in their upper limbs, compared to a regular care program. However, further research is necessary to affirm that therapeutic physical exercise prevents BCRL.