Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 1907–1916 | Cite as

Resistance exercise and secondary lymphedema in breast cancer survivors—a systematic review

  • M. Keilani
  • T. Hasenoehrl
  • M. Neubauer
  • R. CrevennaEmail author
Review Article



The aim of the present review was to determine effects of strength exercise on secondary lymphedema in breast cancer patients.


Research was conducted by using the databases PubMed/Medline and Embase. Randomized controlled trials published from January 1966 to May 2015 investigating the effects of resistance exercise on breast cancer patients with or at risk of secondary lymphedema in accordance with the American College of Sports Medicine exercise guidelines for cancer survivors were included in the present study.


Nine original articles with a total of 957 patients met the inclusion criteria. None of the included articles showed adverse effects of a resistance exercise intervention on lymphedema status. In all included studies, resistance exercise intensity was described as moderate to high.


Strength exercise seems not to have negative effects on lymphedema status or might not increase risk of development of lymphedema in breast cancer patients. Further research is needed in order to investigate the effects of resistance exercise for patients suffering from lymphedema.


Secondary lymphedema Resistance exercise Strength Medical training therapy Breast cancer 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Keilani
    • 1
  • T. Hasenoehrl
    • 1
  • M. Neubauer
    • 1
  • R. Crevenna
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationMedical University of ViennaWähringer GürtelAustria

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