12-1 Update on the Effect of Exercise on Upper Limb Lymphatic

Update on the Effect of Exercise on Upper Limb Lymphatic Return in Breast Cancer Survivors
Jillian Bracha, B.Sc.PT. CLT, CSCI,


Background: Arm lymphedema is a common complication of breast cancer treatments. Exercise has important health benefits and is part of arm lymphedema treatment. However, often women are cautioned against performing vigorous arm activity in the belief that arm lymphedema may be triggered or worsened by overloading an already compromised lymphatic system.

Methods: Recent studies were reviewed which show that vigorous exercise does not have an adverse effect on the arm at risk or on the arm with lymphedema and also that it may be possible to exercise without arm compression.

Results: Professional guidance can enable women at risk for and those with breast cancer related lymphedema to partake in vigorous exercise and benefit from the exercise.

Conclusions: New guidelines have been outlined to enable women with arm lymphedema to return to exercise activity.

Key words: breast cancer, lymphedema, strenuous exercise, arm size.

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