Does weight loss and/or home-based exercise improve breast cancer–related lymphedema more than a supervised, facility-based lymphedema care (control) program previously shown to improve the symptoms and exacerbations of lymphedema?
In this randomized clinical trial of 351 overweight breast cancer survivors with lymphedema, control group, exercise intervention, weight loss intervention, and combined exercise and weight loss intervention status were not associated with significant between-group differences in the 12-month percentage of change in interlimb difference.
Current results compared with previous research suggest that breast cancer survivors may find facility-based exercise more useful than home-based lymphedema care for improving the symptoms of lymphedema.
To our knowledge, no randomized clinical trials have assessed the effects of the combination of weight loss and home-based exercise programs on lymphedema outcomes.
To assess weight loss, home-based exercise, and the combination of weight loss and home-based exercise with clinical lymphedema outcomes among overweight breast cancer survivors.
Design, Setting, and Participants
This randomized clinical trial (Women in Steady Exercise Research [WISER] Survivor clinical trial ) of 351 overweight breast cancer survivors with breast cancer–related lymphedema (BCRL) was conducted in conference rooms at academic and community hospitals and in the homes of participants from March 12, 2012, to May 28, 2016; follow-up was conducted for 1 year from the start of the intervention. Statistical analysis by intention to treat was performed from September 26, 2018, to October 28, 2018.
A 52-week, home-based exercise program of strength/resistance training twice per week and 180 minutes of walking per week, a weight loss program of 20 weeks of meal replacements and 52 weeks of lifestyle modification counseling, and a combination of the home-based exercise and weight loss programs.
Main Outcomes and Measures
The 12-month change in the percentage of interlimb volume difference.
Of 351 participants, 90 were randomized to the control group (facility-based lymphedema care with no home-based exercise or weight loss intervention), 87 to the exercise intervention group, 87 to the weight loss intervention group, and 87 to the combined exercise and weight loss intervention group; 218 (62.1%) were white, 122 (34.8%) were black, and 11 (3.1%) were of other races or ethnicities. Median time since breast cancer diagnosis was 6 years (range, 1-29 years). Mean (SD) total upper extremity score changes from the objective clinical evaluation were −1.40 (11.10) in the control group, −2.54 (13.20) in the exercise group, −3.54 (12.88) in the weight loss group, and −3.84 (10.09) in the combined group. Mean (SD) overall upper extremity score changes from the self-report survey were −0.39 (2.33) in the control group, −0.12 (2.14) in the exercise group, −0.57 (2.47) in the weight loss group, and −0.62 (2.38) in the combined group. Weight loss from baseline was −0.55% (95% CI, −2.22% to 1.11%) in the control group, −8.06% (95% CI, −9.82% to 6.29%) in the combined group, −7.37% (95% CI, −8.90% to −5.84%) in the weight loss group, and −0.44% (95% CI, −1.81% to 0.93%) in the exercise group.
Conclusions and Relevance
Study results indicate that weight loss, home-based exercise, and combined interventions did not improve BCRL outcomes; a supervised facility-based program of exercise may be more beneficial than a home-based program for improving lymphedema outcomes.
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01515124
Schmitz KH, Troxel AB, Dean LT, et al. Effect of Home-Based Exercise and Weight Loss Programs on Breast Cancer–Related Lymphedema Outcomes Among Overweight Breast Cancer Survivors: The WISER Survivor Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Oncol. Published online August 15, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2019.2109
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