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Revista Virtual de la Sociedad Paraguaya de Medicina Interna

On-line version ISSN 2312-3893


PEREIRA-RODRIGUEZ, Javier Eliecer et al. Effectiveness of physical exercise as a treatment for lymphedema in cancer patients. Rev. virtual Soc. Parag. Med. Int. [online]. 2021, vol.8, n.2, pp.89-113. ISSN 2312-3893.


Lymphedema is the most common sign to appear in cancer treatment, especially breast cancer. This situation mainly affects the upper limbs, blocking the lymph nodes, generating fluid retention, affecting the quality of life. One of the alternatives to treat it is physical exercise.

Materials and methods:

A systematic review was carried out using databases such as EMBASE, PubMed, Medscape, MEDLINE and Google Scholar, including randomized controlled trials type studies that evaluated the effects of physical exercise on lymphedema in publications from January 2013 to June 2013, 2020. The recommendations of the Cochrane collaboration for the selection of studies for systematic reviews were taken into account, as well as the criteria of the PRISMA Declaration and the PEDro scale.


A total of 36 articles were included, and it was observed that in 28 studies the application of physical exercise in its different modalities generated a decrease in the circumference of lymphedema, in some cases up to 61% of the initial measurement (p <0.01) while in the remaining 8 articles it was maintained, but improving the functionality of the affected limb and adaptation to it (p <0.01).


The application of physical exercise is an alternative to treat lymphedema which obtains positive results, improving the circumference of the affected limb, functionality, strength, sensitivity and quality of life.

Keywords : neoplasm; physical exercise; rehabilitation; lymphedema..

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