The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and effect of a water-based exercise
program on lymphedema
status and shoulder range of motion
among women with breast cancer
This was a single-blinded, randomized controlled pilot trial. Twenty-nine eligible breast cancer
survivors (median, 10 yrs after surgery) with arm lymphedema
(median, 21% interlimb difference) were included and randomized into the intervention (n
= 15) or control (n
= 14) group. Twenty-five participants completed the study. The intervention was at least twice-weekly water-based exercise
for 8 wks, initially supervised but performed independently during the study period. Outcomes of interest were feasibility as measured by retention and adherence; lymphedema
status as measured by optoelectronic perometry, bioimpedance spectroscopy, and tissue dielectric constant; and shoulder range of motion
as measured by goniometer.
Four participants were not measured at postintervention and were not included in the analysis (retention). Four participants in the intervention group did not perform the minimum water-based exercise
criteria set (adherence). No effect was found on lymphedema
status. Compared with the control group, median range of motion
change for flexion was 6 (1–10) degrees (P
< 0.001) and 6 (0–15.5) degrees (P
= 0.07) for external rotation.
A clinically relevant increase in the intervention group was found for 36% in flexion (P ≤ 0.05) and 57% in external rotation (P ≤ 0.05) compared with controls.
This study shows that water-based exercise
is feasible for breast cancer
survivors with arm lymphedema
and that shoulder range of motion
can be improved years after cancer treatment has been completed.