Effects of weight-lifting or resistance exercise on breast cancer-related lymphedema: A systematic review
Ausanee Wanchai a, *, Jane M. Armer b. International Journal of Nursing Sciences 6 (2019) 92-98
The purpose of this systematic review was to identify the effects of weight-lifting or resistance exercise on breast cancer-related lymphedema. Published articles written in English were retrieved from electronic databases, including ScienceDirect, PubMed, Scopus, and CINAHL databases. Hand-searches for unpublished papers were also completed. Content analysis was used to examine articles that met the inclusion criteria. Among 525 searched papers, 15 papers met the inclusion criteria: 13 trials evaluated weight-lifting or resistance exercise alone and two trials evaluated weight-lifting or resistance exercise plus aerobic exercise. The results of the review showed that no arm volume change was observed for either exercise modality. In addition, six included studies showed that weight-lifting or resistance exercise did not cause lymphedema or adverse events in patients at risk of breast cancer-related lymphedema. For patients with breast cancer-related lymphedema, six studies reported that change of swelling outcome measures were not significantly different between the weight-lifting or resistance exercise group and the control group. However, three included studies reported that volume of arm was significantly more reduced in the weight-lifting or resistance exercise group than those in the control group. The findings suggest that supervised resistance exercise may be safe, feasible, and beneficial in patients with breast cancer-related lymphedema or at risk for breast cancer-related lymphedema. However, the limitation of small sample size implies that further research is needed to confirm these findings.