Could Kinesio tape replace the bandage in decongestive lymphatic therapy for breast-cancer-related lymphedema? A pilot study


Goals of work

The purpose of this study is to compare the treatment and retention effects between standard decongestive lymphatic therapy (DLT) combined with pneumatic compression (PC) and modified DLT, in which the use of a short-stretch bandage is replaced with the use of Kinesio tape (K-tape) combined with PC.

Materials and methods

Forty-one patients with unilateral breast-cancer-related lymphedema for at least 3 months were randomly grouped into the DLT group (bandage group, N = 21) or the modified DLT group (K-tape group, N = 20). Skin care, 30-min manual lymphatic drainage, 1-h pneumatic compression therapy, application of a short-stretch bandage or K-tape for each group, and a 20-min physical therapy exercise were given during every treatment session. Patient evaluation items included physical therapy assessment, limb size, water composition of the upper extremity, lymphedema-related symptoms, quality of life, and patients’ acceptance to the bandage or tape.

Main results

There was no significant difference between groups in all outcome variables (P > 0.05) through the whole study period. Excess limb size (circumference and water displacement) and excess water composition were reduced significantly in the bandage group; excess circumference and excess water composition were reduced significantly in the tape group. The acceptance of K-tape was better than the bandage, and benefits included longer wearing time, less difficulty in usage, and increased comfort and convenience (P < 0.05).


The study results suggest that K-tape could replace the bandage in DLT, and it could be an alternative choice for the breast-cancer-related lymphedema patient with poor short-stretch bandage compliance after 1-month intervention. If the intervention period was prolonged, we might get different conclusion. Moreover, these two treatment protocols are inefficient and cost time in application. More efficient treatment protocol is needed for clinical practice.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jau-Yih Tsauo.

Additional information

Funding was provided by the National Science Council of The Republic of China, Taipei 106, Taiwan (R.O.C.) NSC93-2314-B-002-118.

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Tsai, HJ., Hung, HC., Yang, JL. et al. Could Kinesio tape replace the bandage in decongestive lymphatic therapy for breast-cancer-related lymphedema? A pilot study. Support Care Cancer 17, 1353 (2009).

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  • Breast-cancer-related lymphedema
  • Bandage
  • Taping
  • Decongestive lymphatic therapy