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Massage Therapy for Breast Cancer Treatment-Related Swelling of the Arms

This study has been completed.
Information provided by:
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) Identifier:
First received: April 14, 2003
Last updated: August 17, 2009
Last verified: August 2009
The purpose of this study is to examine the short-term and long-term efficacy of massage therapy alone compared to massage therapy plus compression bandaging in the treatment of breast cancer treatment-related swelling of the arms and legs.

Condition Intervention Phase
Lymphedema Procedure: Manual lymph drainage Procedure: Combined physiotherapy Procedure: Compression bandaging Phase 2

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Single Blind
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Massage Therapy for Breast Cancer-Related Lymphedema

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH):

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • volume change

Estimated Enrollment: 88
Study Start Date: January 2003
Study Completion Date: November 2007
Detailed Description:

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 development.

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 months.


Ages Eligible for Study:   Child, Adult, Senior
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

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
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00058851

United States, Arizona
University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona, United States, 85724
Sponsors and Collaborators
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
Principal Investigator: Michael J Bernas, MS University of Arizona
  More Information Identifier: NCT00058851     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: R21AT001326-01 ( U.S. NIH Grant/Contract )
Study First Received: April 14, 2003
Last Updated: August 17, 2009

Keywords provided by National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH):
Manual lymph drainage
Combined physiotherapy

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Lymphatic Diseases processed this record on July 19, 2017