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Do Women with Breast Cancer–related Lymphoedema Need to Wear Compression While Exercising?: Results from a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis


Purpose of Review

To undertake a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the effects of wearing compression versus no compression during a single bout of exercise, and during an exercise intervention, for those with breast cancer-related lymphoedema (BCRL). A multiple database search was undertaken to identify eligible randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and non-RCTs involving those with BCRL. The primary outcome variable was lymphoedema and pooled statistics were calculated using standardised mean differences (SMDs) within or between compression and no compression groups.

Recent Findings

Six eligible studies were identified and rated as either moderate (n = 5) or strong (n = 1) quality. No within-group change in lymphoedema was observed after a single bout of exercise or after an exercise intervention period with compression (SMD = − 0.08 [95% CI = − 0.36, 0.21]; and SMD = − 0.20 [95% CI = − 0.63, 0.22], respectively) or without compression (SMD = 0.05 [95% CI = − 0.23, 0.34]; and, SMD = − 0.17 [95% CI = − 0.56, 0.22], respectively). There was also no between-group difference found post-exercise (single bout or intervention period) between those exercising with and without compression (SMD = − 0.08 [95% CI = − 0.28, 0.12]).


There appears to be no consistent benefit or adverse effect of wearing compression for BCRL during a single exercise bout or an exercise intervention period.

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Correspondence to Sandi Hayes.

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Sandi Hayes, Ben Singh, Kira Bloomquist, and Karin Johansson declare no conflicts of interest relevant to this manuscript.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Lymphedema incidence, prevention and treatment

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Hayes, S., Singh, B., Bloomquist, K. et al. Do Women with Breast Cancer–related Lymphoedema Need to Wear Compression While Exercising?: Results from a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Curr Breast Cancer Rep 12, 193–201 (2020).

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  • Lymphoedema
  • Exercise
  • Compression
  • Breast cancer