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Yoga management of breast cancer-related lymphoedema: A randomised controlled pilot-trial


Loudon, A and Barnett, T and Piller, N and Immink, MA and Williams, AD, Yoga management of breast cancer-related lymphoedema: A randomised controlled pilot-trial, BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 14 Article 214. ISSN 1472-6882 (2014) [Refereed Article]


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Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

DOI: doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-214


Background: Secondary arm lymphoedema continues to affect at least 20% of women after treatment for breast cancer requiring lifelong professional treatment and self-management. The holistic practice of yoga may offer benefits as an adjunct self-management option. The aim of this small pilot trial was to gain preliminary data to determine the effect of yoga on women with stage one breast cancer-related lymphoedema (BCRL). This paper reports the results for the primary and secondary outcomes.

Methods: Participants were randomised, after baseline testing, to receive either an 8-week yoga intervention (n=15), consisting of a weekly 90-minute teacher-led class and a 40-minute daily session delivered by DVD, or to a usual care wait-listed control group (n =n 13). Primary outcome measures were: arm volume of lymphoedema measured by circumference and extra-cellular fluid measured by bioimpedance spectroscopy. Secondary outome measures were: tissue induration measured by tonometry; levels of sensations, pain, fatigue, and their limiting effects all measured by a visual analogue scale (VAS) and quality of life based on the Lymphoedema Quality of Life Tool (LYMQOL). Measurements were conducted at baseline, week 8 (post-intervention) and week 12 (four weeks after cessation of the intervention).

Results: At week 8, the intervention group had a greater decrease in tissue induration of the affected upper arm compared to the control group (pn =n 0.050), as well as a greater reduction in the symptom sub-scale for QOL (pn =n 0.038). There was no difference in arm volume of lymphoedema or extra-cellular fluid between groups at week 8; however, at week 12, arm volume increased more for the intervention group than the control group (pn =n 0.032).

Conclusions: An 8-week yoga intervention reduced tissue induration of the affected upper arm and decreased the QOL sub-scale of symptoms. Arm volume of lymphoedema and extra-cellular fluid did not increase. These benefits did not last on cessation of the intervention when arm volume of lymphoedema increased. Further research trials with a longer duration, higher levels of lymphoedema and larger numbers are warranted before definitive conclusions can be made.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:yoga, breast cancer-related lymphoedema, symptoms, quality of life, randomised controlled trial
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Allied health and rehabilitation science
Research Field:Rehabilitation
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health)
Objective Field:Women's and maternal health
UTAS Author:Loudon, A (Ms Annette Loudon)
UTAS Author:Barnett, T (Associate Professor Tony Barnett)
UTAS Author:Williams, AD (Associate Professor Andrew Williams)
ID Code:92572
Year Published:2014
Web of Science® Times Cited:44
Deposited By:Health Sciences A
Deposited On:2014-06-24
Last Modified:2017-11-02
Downloads:330 View Download Statistics

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