Rehabilitation interventions for the management of breast cancer–related lymphedema: developing a patient-centered, evidence-based plan of care throughout survivorship



A work group from the American Physical Therapy Association Academy of Oncologic Physical Therapy developed and published a clinical practice guideline (CPG) to aid clinicians in identifying interventions for individuals with breast cancer–related lymphedema (BCRL). This guideline reviewed the evidence for risk mitigation and volume reduction beginning at cancer diagnosis and continuing through survivorship. Application of CPGs can be challenging due to the variability of clinical settings, heterogeneous patient populations, and range of rehabilitation clinician expertise. The purpose of this paper is to assist these clinicians in implementing the recommendations from the CPG to develop a patient-centered, evidence-based plan of care.


This publication presents important considerations for the implementation of recommended rehabilitation interventions across the trajectory of BCRL.


Current evidence supports specific interventions to treat or mitigate the risk for the various stages of BCRL. As clinicians implement these recommendations into practice, they also need to address other impairments that may exist in every individual. Continued collaboration between clinicians and researchers is necessary to further develop optimal treatment modalities and parameters.

Implications for Cancer Survivors

By implementing evidence-based interventions as outlined in the CPG, clinicians can improve the quality of care for survivors of breast cancer.

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design, material preparation, and writing of the manuscript. All authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Kathryn Ryans.

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Ryans, K., Perdomo, M., Davies, C.C. et al. Rehabilitation interventions for the management of breast cancer–related lymphedema: developing a patient-centered, evidence-based plan of care throughout survivorship. J Cancer Surviv (2021).

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  • Breast cancer
  • Lymphedema
  • Interventions