Study designs of evaluations included in the review
Only randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were eligible for inclusion in the review.
Specific interventions included in the review
Studies that assessed treatments for lymphoedema related to treatment for breast cancer were eligible for inclusion. The specific interventions assessed included: therapy; elastic sleeve or compression garment plus exercise and self-massage; manual lymph drainage plus self-massage and standard care; pneumatic compression pump with or without compression sleeve; electrically stimulated lymphatic drainage plus elastic sleeve; and medical therapy compared with placebo, exercise and self-massage, manual lymphatic drainage, elastic sleeve, standard therapy or no treatment.
Participants included in the review
Studies with participants that had received treatment for breast cancer were eligible for the review. The majority of studies included patients with established arm lymphoedema, although the definitions of lymphoedema varied. The duration of lymphoedema prior to the start of the studies varied from 6.5 to 14.5 months for studies of physical therapy, and from 3.2 to 8 years for studies of medical therapy.
Outcomes assessed in the review
Studies that measured the effect of therapy for lymphoedema on arm volume, symptom control, quality of life or cosmetic results were eligible for inclusion.
How were decisions on the relevance of primary studies made?
Two reviewers selected studies for inclusion.