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Table 1 Characteristics of 7 RCTs regarding LLLT (PBM) for BCRL

From: Low level laser therapy (Photobiomodulation therapy) for breast cancer-related lymphedema: a systematic review

Authors (Year) Participants Interventions
(No. Participants)
Co-intervention Outcome Measures Measured
Time Points
Conclusions Comments Funding Resources
Ridner et al. (2013) [49] 46 women, unilateral BCRL (1) LLLT (n = 15)
(2) Manual lymphatic drainage (n = 16)
(3) LLLT + manual lymphatic drainage (n = 15)
Compression bandaging after each Tx I: Limb circumference i: Baseline
ii: Daily and weekly in Tx
iii: Post-Tx
LLLT with bandaging may offer a time saving therapeutic option that provides similar results as those with conventional manual lymphatic drainage. Small sample size; unaffected limb not assessed ONS Foundation, National Center for Research Resources, the National Institutes of Health
Omar et al. (2011) [48] 50 women, unilateral BCRL (1) LLLT (n = 25)
(2) Sham laser (n = 25)
1) Limb exercise
2) Skin care instructions
3) Pressure garment
I: Limb circumference
II: Range of motion
i: Baseline
ii: 4 wk.
iii: 8 wk.
iv: 12 wk.
v: 16 wk
LLLT was found to be effective in reducing the limb volume, increase shoulder mobility, and hand grip strength in approximately 93% of patients with post-mastectomy lymphedema. Not with intention-to-treat analysis NR
Lau and Cheing (2009) [52] 21 women, unilateral BCRL (1) LLLT (n = 11)
(2) Waiting list (n = 10)
Education I: Limb volume i: Baseline
ii: Post-Tx
iii: 4 wks post-Tx
LLLT was effective in the management of post-mastectomy lymphedema, and the effects were maintained to the 4wk follow-up. Small sample size; assessor not blinded NR
Kozanoglu et al. (2009) [50] 47 women, unilateral BCRL (1) LLLT (n = 23)
(2) Pneumatic compression therapy (n = 24)
1) Limb exercises
2) Hygiene
3) Skin care
I: Limb circumference
II: Pain
i: Baseline
ii: Post-Tx
iii: 3 mo
iv: 6 mo
v: 12 mo
Both Tx modalities have positive effects in the treatment of post-mastectomy lymphedema, it seems that LLLT has better results at long term. Small sample size; not with intention-to-treat analysis NR
Maiya et al. (2008) [51] 20 women, unilateral BCRL (1) LLLT (n = 10)
(2) Compression bandage (n = 10)
Upper extremity exercise program I: Limb circumference
II: Pain
i: Baseline
ii: Post-Tx
LLLT significantly reduces post-mastectomy lymphedema and pain compared to conventional group. Lacked demographics; small sample size; lacked intragroup differences NR
Kaviani et al. (2006) [47] 11 women, unilateral BCRL (1) LLLT (n = 6)
(2) Sham laser (n = 5)
NR I: Limb circumference
II: Pain
III: Range of motion
i: Baseline
ii: 3 wk.
iii: 9 wk.
iv: 12 wk.
v: 18 wk.
vi: 22 wk
LLLT may be effective in reducing arm circumference and pain, and in increasing the desire to continue Tx in patients with post-mastectomy lymphedema. Very small sample size; not with intention-to-treat analysis NR
Carati et al. (2003) [46] 61 women, unilateral BCRL (1) LLLT (n = 33)
(2) Sham laser (n = 28)
NR I: Limb volume
II: Range of motion
i: Baseline
ii: Pre-Txs in C1
iii: End of C1
iv: Start of C2
v: End of C2
vi: 1 mo after C2
vii: 3 mo after C2
Two cycles of LLLT were found to be effective in reducing the volume of the affected arm, extracellular fluid, and tissue hardness in approximately 33% of patients with post-mastectomy lymphedema at 3 months after Tx. Two-component crossover study, only 1st phase was included for analysis AUSIndustry grant to RIAN Corp & Flinders University
  1. BCRL breast cancer-related lymphedema, C cycle, LLLT low level laser therapy, mo months, NR not reported, Tx treatment, wk. weeks