LYMPHATIC RESEARCH AND BIOLOGY, vol.19, pp.141-150, 2021 (SCI-Expanded)
Background:Breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL) is a potentially debilitating complication of breast cancer and its treatment. The aim of this study was to determine the efficacy of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) added to multilayer compressive bandage treatment in addition to an exercise program, on arm volume, subjective symptoms, upper limb functions, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in patients with BCRL. Methods:This prospective, randomized, single-blind interventional trial involved 54 patients with BCRL. Eligible patients were randomly allocated to a complex decongestive therapy (CDT) group (n = 27) and a standard therapy (ST) group (n = 27). Both groups participated in a 15-session program (every weekday for 3 weeks) that included compressive multilayer bandaging and exercise training. The patients who were allocated to the CDT group received MLD before bandaging in addition to the ST. Bilateral arm circumferences were measured using a measuring tape at six reference points. Subjective symptoms, such as discomfort, heaviness, and swelling severity were measured using a visual analog scale (VAS). Upper limb functions and HRQoL were assessed using the Quick Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (Quick-DASH) and Lymphedema Functioning, Disability, and Health Questionnaire (Lymph-ICF), respectively. Results:The excess arm volume, percent change of excess arm volume, Quick-DASH scores, and Lymph-ICF subscale scores significantly decreased (p < 0.001) in both treatment groups. However, there was no significant difference between the two groups (p > 0.05) in terms of changes in these outcomes. The VAS discomfort (p = 0.015) and VAS heaviness (p = 0.014) scores decreased significantly in the CDT group compared to the ST group. Conclusion:The study findings indicated that both treatment approaches were effective in patients with BRCL. However, no additional effect of MLD was found with regard to percent reduction in arm volume in the intensive treatment period of BRCL.