Conservative interventions for preventing clinically detectable upper-limb lymphoedema in patients who are at risk of developing lymphoedema after breast cancer therapy

M.M. Stuiver, M.R. ten Tusscher, C.S. Agasi-Idenburg, C. Lucas, N.K. Aaronson, P.M.M. Bossuyt

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Background: Breast cancer-related lymphoedema can be a debilitating long-term sequela of breast cancer treatment. Several studies have investigated the effectiveness of different treatment strategies to reduce the risk of breast cancer-related lymphoedema.

Objectives: To assess the effects of conservative (non-surgical and non-pharmacological) interventions for preventing clinically-detectable upper-limb lymphoedema after breast cancer treatment.

Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Breast Cancer Group's (CBCG) Specialised Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PEDro, PsycINFO, and the World Health Organization (WHO) International Clinical Trials Registry Platform in May 2013. Reference lists of included trials and other systematic reviews were searched.

Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials that reported lymphoedema as the primary outcome and compared any conservative intervention to either no intervention or to another conservative intervention.

Data collection and analysis: Three authors independently assessed the risk of bias and extracted data. Outcome measures included lymphoedema, infection, range of motion of the shoulder, pain, psychosocial morbidity, level of functioning in activities of daily life (ADL), and health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Where possible, meta-analyses were performed. Risk ratio (RRs) or hazard ratio (HRs) were reported for dichotomous outcomes or lymphoedema incidence, and mean differences (MDs) for range of motion and patient-reported outcomes.

Main results: Ten trials involving 1205 participants were included. The duration of patient follow-up ranged from 2 days to 2 years after the intervention. Overall, the quality of the evidence generated by these trials was low, due to risk of bias in the included trials and inconsistency in the results.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD009765
Pages (from-to)CD009765
Number of pages77
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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