Effects of exercise on lower limb lymphedema in gynecologic cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Yu Yun Hsu, Tram TB Nguyen, Yen Ju Chou, Chien Liang Ho

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose: A systematic review investigated the effectiveness of physical activity in alleviating lower limb lymphedema among patients with gynecological cancer after surgery. Methods: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental designs was conducted. Six databases, Cinahl, Cochrane, Embase, Medline, Scopus, and Web of Science, were searched for relevant publications from inception to October 2022 and updated in January 2024. RevMan software was used to perform meta-analysis using a random-effects model. Results: Seven studies (5 randomized controlled trials) containing 261 subjects were synthesized. The risk of bias was low in the included studies. The exercise interventions for lower limb lymphedema included active, aerobic, aquatic, and weight-lifting exercises. Meta-analyses showed that active exercise had no effect on lymphedema symptoms of limb volume, pain, and heaviness. However, the effectiveness of exercise on limb volume had subthreshold borderline significance in 2 studies (standardized mean difference = 0.43, 95% confidence interval – 0.01, 0.88; I2 = 0%, p = 0.06). Three studies found that lymphedema symptoms were significantly improved after exercise interventions. The adherence rate of the exercise was 77–100%, with the only complication being cellulitis. Conclusions: Although the meta-analysis does not reveal a significant effect, the systematic review study demonstrated that exercise is feasible, safe, and has a clinical effect on alleviating lymphedema-related symptoms of women following gynecological cancer surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102550
JournalEuropean Journal of Oncology Nursing
Publication statusPublished - 2024 Jun

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology(nursing)


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