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Massage Therapy for Breast Cancer-Related Lymphedema

Phase 2
Not Enrolling

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Trial Information

Massage Therapy for Breast Cancer-Related Lymphedema

Massage therapy (in the form of manual lymph drainage [MLD]) and compression bandaging (CB)
are integral components of combined physical therapy (CPT), the recommended treatment for
peripheral lymphedema (LE). According to the World Health Organization, LE afflicts hundreds
of millions worldwide and probably millions in the United States. Effects of various forms
of massage on lymph circulation have been postulated for more than a century, but the
efficacy of MLD alone without CB has not been demonstrated. New data suggest that MLD alone
reduces established LE volume as effectively as CB in combination with CPT and minimizes LE

Patients will be randomly assigned to either treatment with MLD alone or a combination of
MLD and CB. Patients will be treated in 10 one-hour sessions over 2 weeks. They will also
undergo lymphangioscintigraphy (a nuclear medicine test) to depict the function of their
lymphatic system. Patients will continue self treatment at home and will be followed for 6

Inclusion Criteria:

- Lymphedema (5% to 20% increase in volume) after breast cancer treatment

Exclusion Criteria:

- Physically unable to perform massage or bandaging during home program

Type of Study:


Study Design:

Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Single Blind, Primary Purpose: Treatment

Outcome Measure:

volume change

Principal Investigator

Michael J Bernas, MS

Investigator Role:

Principal Investigator

Investigator Affiliation:

University of Arizona


United States: Federal Government

Study ID:

R21 AT001326-01



Start Date:

January 2003

Completion Date:

November 2007

Related Keywords:

  • Lymphedema
  • Manual lymph drainage
  • Combined physiotherapy
  • Breast Neoplasms
  • Lymphedema



University of Arizona Tucson, Arizona  85724