Complementary Therapy for Breast Cancer Patients Related Lymphedema

  • Amalia Mastura Universitas Indonesia
  • Dewi Irawaty Universitas Indonesia
Keywords: breast cancer, lymphedema, cancer related lymphedema, complementary therapy


Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in the world that has many potential negative impacts. One of the generally complications that can occur in breast cancer patients is lymphedema. Lymphedema is abnormal swelling in hands, arms and breasts as negative effects of medical management. Currently, various attempts have been conducted to treat lymphedema, such as invasive and non-pharmacological treatments. For this reason, this study aims to determine the effectiveness of the use of complementary therapies for breast cancer patients. The method used is a literature review through articles indexed from several databases, such as Elsevier, Springer, Wiley, and ScienDirect from 2015-2019 using the keywords "breast cancer", "breast cancer related lymphedema", "complementary therapy" , "Lymphedema management". Eight articles were selected based on the purposes and inclusion criteria of this research, consisting of six quantitative studies with randomized controlled trial research method and two articles of qualitative studies. The result of the literature review shows a positive effect of lymphedema treatment conducted by breast cancer patients. Complementary therapy can be an advisable solution to reduce and treat lymphedema in breast cancer patients.


Arinaga, Y., Piller, N., Sato, F., Ishida, T., Ohtake, T., Kikuchi, K., … Miyashita, M. (2019). The 10-min holistic self-care for patients with breast cancer- related lymphedema: Pilot randomized controlled study. Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine, 247(2), 139–147. doi:10.1620/tjem.247.139
Bao, T., Iris Zhi, W., Vertosick, E. A., Li, Q. S., DeRito, J., Vickers, A., … Van Zee, K. J. (2018). Acupuncture for breast cancer-related lymphedema: a randomized controlled trial. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 170(1), 77–87. doi:10.1007/s10549-018-4743-
Buchan, J., Janda, M., Box, R., Schmitz, K., & Hayes, S. (2016). A Randomized Trial on the Effect of Exercise Mode on Breast Cancer-Related Lymphedema. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 48(10), 1866–1874. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000000988
Butt, A., Ijaz Gondal, Mj., & Qamar, M. (2017). Effectiveness of compression therapy along with exercise to reduce upper limb lymphedema in breast cancer patients. Saudi Journal of Sports Medicine, 17(3), 148. doi:10.4103/sjsm.sjsm_23_17
Creager, M. A., Dzau, V. J., & Loscalzo, J. (2006). Vascular medicine. Vascular Medicine. doi:10.1016/B978-0-7216-0284-4.X5001-5
Deacon, R., de Noronha, M., Shanley, L., & Young, K. (2019). Does the speed of aquatic therapy exercise alter arm volume in women with breast cancer related lymphoedema? A cross-over randomized controlled trial. Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy, 23(2), 140–147. doi:10.1016/j.bjpt.2018.11.004
DeSantis, C. E., Fedewa, S. A., Goding Sauer, A., Kramer, J. L., Smith, R. A., & Jemal, A. (2016). Breast cancer statistics, 2015: Convergence of incidence rates between black and white women. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 66(1), 31–42. doi:10.3322/caac.21320
DiSipio, T., Rye, S., Newman, B., & Hayes, S. (2013). Incidence of unilateral arm lymphoedema after breast cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet Oncology, 14(6), 500–515. doi:10.1016/S1470-2045(13)70076-7
Gary, D. E. (2007). Lymphedema diagnosis and management. Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, 19(2), 72–78. doi:10.1111/j.1745-7599.2006.00198.x
Globocan (2018). Breast Cancer. Source: Globocan 2018. World Health Organization, 876, 2018–2019. Retrieved from
Harmer, V. (2016). Breast cancer nnursing: care and management. Oxford: Blackwell publishing.
Janda, M., & Hayes, S. C. (2011). Short Report Lymphedema After Breast or Gynecological Cancer : and Complementary Therapies, 17(9), 867–869. doi:10.1089/acm.2010.0456
Loudon, A., Barnett, T., & Williams, A. (2017). Yoga, breast cancer-related lymphoedema and well-being: A descriptive report of women’s participation in a clinical trial. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 26(23-24), 4685–4695. doi:10.1111/jocn.13819
Pasyar, N., Barshan Tashnizi, N., Mansouri, P., & Tahmasebi, S. (2019). Effect of yoga exercise on the quality of life and upper extremity volume among women with breast cancer related lymphedema: A pilot study. European Journal of Oncology Nursing, 42(August), 103–109. doi:10.1016/j.ejon.2019.08.008
Shah, C., & Vicini, F. A. (2011). Breast cancer-related arm lymphedema: Incidence rates, diagnostic techniques, optimal management and risk reduction strategies. International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics, 81(4), 907–914. doi:10.1016/j.ijrobp.2011.05.043
Shaitelman, S. F., Cromwell, K. D., Rasmussen, J. C., Stout, N. L., Armer, J. M., Lasinski, B. B., & Cormier, J. N. (2015). Recent progress in the treatment and prevention of cancer-related lymphedema. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 65(1), 55–81. doi:10.3322/caac.21253
Watson, S. L., Weeks, B. K., Weis, L. J., Horan, S. A., & Beck, B. R. (2015). Heavy resistance training is safe and improves bone, function, and stature in postmenopausal women with low to very low bone mass: novel early findings from the LIFTMOR trial. Osteoporosis International, 26(12), 2889–2894. doi:10.1007/s00198-015-3263-2
Whatley, J., Street, R., & Kay, S. (2018). Experiences of breast cancer related lymphoedema and the use of reflexology for managing swelling: A qualitative study. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 32(April), 123–129. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2018.06.006 Williams, A. F., Franks, P. J., & Moffatt, C. J. (2005). Lymphoedema: Estimating the size of the problem. Palliative Medicine, 19(4), 300–313. doi:10.1191/0269216305pm1020oa.
Yao, C., Xu, Y., Chen, L., Jiang, H., Ki, C. S., Byun, J. S., & Bian, W. (2016). Effects of warm acupuncture on breast cancer – related chronic lymphedema : a randomized controlled trial, 23(1), 27–34.
How to Cite
Mastura, A., & Irawaty, D. (2020). Complementary Therapy for Breast Cancer Patients Related Lymphedema. Jurnal Keperawatan, 12(4), 629-640.