Effects of weight reduction on the breast cancer-related lymphedema: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Chi Lin Tsai, Hsu Chih-Yang Hsu, Wei Wen Chang, Lin Yen-Nung Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Obesity has long been considered a risk factor for breast cancer–related lymphedema (BCRL), but the benefits of weight reduction in managing BCRL have not been clearly established. Objective: To evaluate the beneficial effects of weight loss interventions (WLIs) on the reduction and prevention of BCRL. Methods: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis by searching the PubMed, Scopus, and Embase databases from their earliest record to October 1st, 2019. We included randomized and non-randomized controlled trials involving adult patients with a history of breast cancer, that compared WLI groups with no-WLI groups, and provided quantitative measurements of lymphedema. Results: Initial literature search yielded 461 nonduplicate records. After exclusion based on title, abstract, and full-text review, four randomized controlled trials involving 460 participants were included for quantitative analysis. Our meta-analysis revealed a significant between-group mean difference (MD) regarding the volume of affected arm (MD = 244.7 mL, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 145.3–344.0) and volume of unaffected arm (MD = 234.5 mL, 95% CI: 146.9–322.1). However, a nonsignificant between-group MD of −0.07% (95% CI: 1.22–1.08) was observed regarding the interlimb volume difference at the end of the WLIs. Conclusions: In patients with BCRL, WLIs are associated with decreased volume of the affected and unaffected arms but not with decreased severity of BCRL measured by interlimb difference in arm volume.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-121
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Breast cancer lymphedema
  • Breast neoplasms
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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