Author(s): Schmitz KH, Ahmed RL, Troxel AB, Cheville A, LewisGrant L,
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Abstract CONTEXT: Clinical guidelines for breast cancer survivors without lymphedema advise against upper body exercise, preventing them from obtaining established health benefits of weight lifting. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate lymphedema onset after a 1-year weight lifting intervention vs no exercise (control) among survivors at risk for breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL). DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: A randomized controlled equivalence trial (Physical Activity and Lymphedema trial) in the Philadelphia metropolitan area of 154 breast cancer survivors 1 to 5 years postunilateral breast cancer, with at least 2 lymph nodes removed and without clinical signs of BCRL at study entry. Participants were recruited between October 1, 2005, and February 2007, with data collection ending in August 2008. INTERVENTION: Weight lifting intervention included a gym membership and 13 weeks of supervised instruction, with the remaining 9 months unsupervised, vs no exercise. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Incident BCRL determined by increased arm swelling during 12 months (≥5\% increase in interlimb difference). Clinician-defined BCRL onset was also evaluated. Equivalence margin was defined as doubling of lymphedema incidence. RESULTS: A total of 134 participants completed follow-up measures at 1 year. The proportion of women who experienced incident BCRL onset was 11\% (8 of 72) in the weight lifting intervention group and 17\% (13 of 75) in the control group (cumulative incidence difference [CID], -6.0\%; 95\% confidence interval [CI], -17.2\% to 5.2\%; P for equivalence = .04). Among women with 5 or more lymph nodes removed, the proportion who experienced incident BCRL onset was 7\% (3 of 45) in the weight lifting intervention group and 22\% (11 of 49) in the control group (CID, -15.0\%; 95\% CI, -18.6\% to -11.4\%; P for equivalence = .003). Clinician-defined BCRL onset occurred in 1 woman in the weight lifting intervention group and 3 women in the control group (1.5\% vs 4.4\%, P for equivalence = .12). CONCLUSION: In breast cancer survivors at risk for lymphedema, a program of slowly progressive weight lifting compared with no exercise did not result in increased incidence of lymphedema. TRIAL REGISTRATION: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00194363.
This article was published in JAMA
and referenced in Journal of Cancer Science & Therapy