Physiotherapy treatments for breast cancer-related lymphedema: a literature review.


Leal NF, Carrara HH, Vieira KF, Ferreira CH.

Rev Lat Am Enfermagem. 2009 Sep-Oct;17(5):730-6.


Breast cancer is the second most frequent cancer among women. Surgery is part of the therapeutic process to prevent metastases, but it can also cause some complications, including lymphedema. Physiotherapy contributes to its treatment, using different techniques that have been developed over the years. This systematic literature review aims to present physiotherapy modalities applied for lymphedema therapy. The literature review was conducted using textbooks and Lilacs, Pubmed and Scielo databases, from 1951 to 2009. Physiotherapy resources used for lymphedema treatment include complex decongestive therapy (CDT), pneumatic compression (PC), high voltage electrical stimulation (HVES) and laser therapy. The analyzed literature shows that better results are obtained with combined techniques. CDT is the most used protocol, and its association with PC has demonstrated efficacy. The new techniques HVES and laser present satisfactory results.