Clinical application of low-level laser therapy (Photo-biomodulation therapy) in the management of breast cancer-related lymphedema: a systematic review

BMC Cancer. 2022 Aug 30;22(1):937. doi: 10.1186/s12885-022-10021-8.


Background: Breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL) is a frequent issue that arises after mastectomy surgery in women and compromises physical and mental function. Previously published studies have shown positive effects with the use of Low-level laser therapy in another term Photo-biomodulation therapy (PBM). This research investigated the efficacy of clinical use of LLLT (PBM) in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer-related lymphedema.

Methods: PubMed, PEDro, Medline, and the Cochrane Library were searched for LLLT clinical trials published before October 2021. The methodological quality of randomized trials and the effectiveness of Laser Therapy for BCRL were evaluated. The primary objectives were arm circumference or arm volume, whereas the secondary goals were to assess shoulder mobility and pain severity.

Results: Eight clinical trials were analyzed in total. Typically, the included RCTs had good research quality. At four weeks, there was a considerable reduction in arm circumference/volume, and this continued with long-term follow-up. However, no statistically significant change in shoulder mobility or pain severity was seen between the laser and placebo groups at 0-, 1-, 2-, and 3-month short-term follow-up.

Conclusions: The findings of this comprehensive study demonstrated that LLLT (PBM) was successful in diminishing arm circumference and volume than improving shoulder mobility and pain. Data indicates that laser therapy (PBM) may be a beneficial treatment option for females with PML. Because of the scarcity of evidence, there is a strong need for well-conducted and longer-duration trials in this field.

Trial registration: Details of the protocol for this systematic review were registered on PROSPERO and can be accessed at .

Keywords: Breast cancer; Laser therapy; Low-level laser therapy; Lymphedema; Photo-biomodulation therapy; Postmastectomy lymphedema; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Cancer Lymphedema* / radiotherapy
  • Breast Neoplasms* / complications
  • Breast Neoplasms* / radiotherapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low-Level Light Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Low-Level Light Therapy* / methods
  • Lymphedema* / etiology
  • Mastectomy / adverse effects