1. Chu, Julie MSN
  2. Singh Joy, Subhashni D.


According to this study:


* A progressive weight-lifting program can reduce exacerbations and symptoms of lymphedema in breast cancer survivors.



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Women with breast cancer-related lymphedema have repeatedly heard the warning to avoid lifting heavy objects to prevent their symptoms from worsening. A new study, however, shows that a progressive weight-lifting program can decrease symptoms while increasing strength.


A total of 141 women with a history of breast cancer and with current, stable lymphedema of the arm were enrolled in this randomized study to determine whether participating in a progressive weight-lifting program would result in changes in limb swelling, symptoms, and strength. Participants wore a compression sleeve while lifting weights. Women in the weight-lifting group (n = 71) were given a one-year membership to a fitness center where they received instruction in progressive weight lifting twice weekly for the first 13 weeks. They continued their exercises unsupervised twice weekly for the remainder of the study. Arm measurements were taken monthly. Women in the control group (n = 70) were told to maintain their regular exercise level throughout the study period. The primary outcome was a 5% or greater change in volume between the affected and unaffected limbs. Secondary outcomes included exacerbation of lymphedema and symptom severity.


At 12 months, the upper- and lower-body strength of the treatment group was significantly greater than that of the control group, as measured by the bench press and leg press. But the proportion of women who had a 5% or greater change in limb volume didn't differ significantly between groups, suggesting that the progressive weight-lifting program didn't affect lymphedema severity. However, the treatment group did exhibit fewer exacerbations and reported fewer and less severe symptoms than the control group.-JC


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