Lymphoedema characterised by the persistent accumulation of the interstitial fluid in peripheral tissues post breast cancer treatments. Photobiomodualtion therapy (PBMT) is widely used as supportive care in patients with breast cancer or breast cancer-related lymphoedema (BCRL). This systematic review and meta-analysis analysed the effectiveness and safety of PBMT for the treatment of BCRL.
PubMed, EMBASE, PEDro, SCOPUS, CINAHL, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials were searched for RCTs on PBMT published before July 2019. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that evaluated the efficacy of PBMT on BCRL were included. The primary outcome was the arm circumference or volume, and secondary outcomes were grip strength and pain scores. This study is registered with PROSPERO (number CRD 42018102107).
We reviewed nine RCTs that included 316 patients and six studies for mata-analysis. We found no significant difference in the reduction of the arm circumference or arm volume after treatment, one month, and three month follow-up between the PBMT and control groups. Studies revealed no significant differences in the reduction in grip strength and pain scores at 0, 1, 2, and 3 month between the PBMT and control groups.
Although PBMT demonstrated a slight improvement in reducing arm circumference and arm volume, the results of our meta-analysis did not show significant benefits in relieving of lymphoedema. Further trials are needed to recruit more participants, and to evaluate the long-term efficacy and safety of PBMT in management of breast cancer-related lymphoedema.