Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 383–392 | Cite as

Aqua lymphatic therapy in women who suffer from breast cancer treatment-related lymphedema: a randomized controlled study

  • Dorit Tidhar
  • Michal Katz-LeurerEmail author
Original Article



Lymphedema is an adverse effect of breast cancer surgery. Aqua lymphatic therapy (ALT) is a novel treatment for limb volume reduction.


The aim of this study was to examine whether ALT is a safe method and whether there are differences in adherence, limb volume, and quality of life between women who perform only self-management treatment and women who participate as well in ALT.


Design of the study was single-blind randomized clinical trial.


The setting was in a hydrotherapy pool, 1.2 m depth, and a temperature of 32–33°С.


Forty-eight women (56 ± 10 years), with a 12.8% lymphedema relative volume, participated in the study.


The control group was instructed to perform the self-management treatment. The study group joined a weekly session of ALT for 3 months in addition to the self-management therapy.


Adherence was assessed by a self-reported diary, limb volume by a water displacement device, quality of life by the Upper Limb Lymphedema Questionnaire (ULL27), prior to, and after the intervention period.


There was no episode of arm infection or aggravation in limb volume during the study period. ALT had a positive, statistically and clinically significant immediate effect on limb volume but no long-term effect was noted. The adherence rate to ALT was significantly higher than the adherence to self-management therapy. QOL improved in the study group.


ALT was found to be a safe method, with high adherence, in treating women who suffer from mild to moderate lymphedema. A significant immediate and insignificant long-term effect on limb volume was noted.


Aqua therapy Breast cancer Lymphedema 



We express our deepest gratitude to Prof. Judith R. Casley-Smith, for her support in the development of the aqua lymphatic therapy. We thank the physical therapists, Anat Assa and Ilana Shneiderman, for helping with the assessment measurements.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physical Therapy“Maccabi Healthcare Services”NetivotIsrael
  2. 2.Department of Physical Therapy, School of Health Professions, Sackler Faculty of MedicineTel-Aviv UniversityTel-AvivIsrael

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