The efficacy of complex decongestive physiotherapy (CDP) and predictive factors of lymphedema severity and response to CDP in breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL)

Breast. 2013 Oct;22(5):703-6. doi: 10.1016/j.breast.2012.12.018. Epub 2013 Jan 12.


BCRL is the most common morbidity in women with breast cancer. We performed a retrospective analysis of 107 BCRL patients to identify the efficacy of CDP and the predictors of lymphedema severity and response to CDP. The patients received 12 sessions of CDP, the duration of lymphedema was 22.4 months, and 56% of BCRL occurred within 2 years after surgery. Lymphedema severity, baseline and post-CDP percentage of excess volume (PEV), was 27.7% and 14.9%. The baseline PEV was correlated with the duration of lymphedema. The CDP efficacy, percentage reduction of excess volume (PREV), was 50.5%, and was correlated with PEV, duration of lymphedema and age. Baseline lymphedema severity was the most important predictive factor for CDP efficacy. The breast cancer therapy characteristics did not affect PEV or PREV. This study showed the effectiveness of an intensive CDP interventions. The key to predicting successful lymphedema treatment is the baseline PEV.

Keywords: Breast cancer; CDP; Compression therapy; Decongestive therapy; Lymphedema; PEV; PREV; V(H); V(L); complex decongestive physiotherapy; healthy arm volume; lymphedema arm volume; percentage of excess volume; percentage reduction of excess volume.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Axilla
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Compression Bandages
  • Drainage
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymph Node Excision / adverse effects*
  • Lymphedema / etiology
  • Lymphedema / pathology
  • Lymphedema / therapy*
  • Mastectomy / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Size
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Upper Extremity / pathology*