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Open Access Highly Accessed Study protocol

Manual lymphatic drainage therapy in patients with breast cancer related lymphoedema

Marta López Martín1*, Miguel A Hernández1, Cristina Avendaño1, Francisco Rodríguez2 and Helena Martínez1

Author Affiliations

1 Unidad de Investigación, Hospital Universitario de La Princesa, Diego de León 36, 28046 Madrid, Spain

2 Fundación Laín Entralgo, Gran Vía 27, 2813 Madrid, Spain

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:94  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-94

Published: 9 March 2011



Lymphoedema is a common and troublesome condition that develops following breast cancer treatment. The aim of this study is to analyze the effectiveness of Manual Lymphatic Drainage in the treatment of postmastectomy lymphoedema in order to reduce the volume of lymphoedema and evaluate the improvement of the concomitant symptomatology.


A randomized, controlled clinical trial in 58 women with post-mastectomy lymphoedema. The control group includes 29 patients with standard treatment (skin care, exercise and compression measures, bandages for one month and, subsequently, compression garnments). The experimental group includes 29 patients with standard treatment plus Manual Lymphatic Drainage. The therapy will be administered daily for four weeks and the patient's condition will be assessed one, three and six months after treatment.

The primary outcome parameter is volume reduction of the affected arm after treatment, expressed as a percentage. Secondary outcome parameters include: duration of lymphoedema reduction and improvement of the concomitant symptomatology (degree of pain, sensation of swelling and functional limitation in the affected extremity, subjective feeling of being physically less atractive and less feminine, difficulty looking at oneself naked and dissatisfaction with the corporal image).


The results of this study will provide information on the effectiveness of Manual Lymphatic Drainage and its impact on the quality of life and physical limitations of these patients.

Trial registration

ClinicalTrials (NCT): NCT01152099