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The use of compression garments duringexercise is recommended for women withbreast cancer-related lymphedema, but theevidence behind this clinical recommendationis unclear. The aim of this randomized, crossovertrial was to compare the acute effects ofwearing versus not wearing compressionduring a single bout of moderate-load resistanceexercise on lymphedema status and itsassociated symptoms in women with breastcancer-related lymphedema (BCRL). Twentyfivewomen with clinically diagnosed, stableunilateral breast cancer-related lymphedemacompleted two resistance exercise sessions,one with compression and one without, in arandomized order separated by a minimum 6day wash-out period. The resistance exercisesession consisted of six upper-body exercises,with each exercise performed for three sets ata moderate-load (10-12 repetition maximum).Primary outcome was lymphedema, assessedusing bioimpedance spectroscopy (L-Dexscore). Secondary outcomes were lymphedemaas assessed by arm circumferences (percent inter-limb difference and sum-of-circumferences),and symptom severity for pain,heaviness and tightness, measured using visualanalogue scales. Measurements were takenpre-, immediately post- and 24 hours postexercise.There was no difference in lymphedemastatus (i.e., L-Dex scores) pre- andpost-exercise sessions or between thecompression and non-compression condition[Mean (SD) for compression pre-, immediatelypost- and 24 hours post-exercise: 17.7 (21.5),12.7 (16.2) and 14.1 (16.7), respectively; nocompression: 15.3 (18.3), 15.3 (17.8), and 13.4(16.1), respectively]. Circumference valuesand symptom severity were stable across timeand treatment condition. An acute bout ofmoderate-load, upper-body resistance exerciseperformed in the absence of compressiondoes not exacerbate lymphedema in womenwith BCRL.


Institute for Health and Ageing

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