Project ID: 2015_020_KIL_01

This project represents the first step in the development of a national research program to investigate the benefits of exercise to improve symptoms for women living with breast lymphoedema (chronic swelling and discomfort in the breast region).

Breast lymphoedema can occur following surgical treatment for breast cancer. Although it occurs in more than one third of women who report symptoms associated with lymphoedema, there have been no high quality studies on its management. Exercise programs have been shown to benefit arm lymphoedema and it is unknown whether breast lymphoedema responds similarly as arm lymphoedema to treatments. This study proposes to investigate whether an exercise program can reduce the symptoms for women with breast lymphoedema.

The researcher: Professor Sharon Kilbreath

Professor Sharon Kilbreath received her physiotherapy undergraduate and master’s degrees in Canada, whilst her Ph.D. degree in neurophysiology was conferred from the University of New South Wales, Australia. At present, she is Professor within the School of Physiotherapy at the University of Sydney. Professor Kilbreath’s research is directed at rehabilitation of patients’ impairments and disabilities resulting from treatment of breast cancer. She leads a team of senior researchers, clinicians and several postdoctoral students in projects that aim firstly to prevent physical morbidities from occurring as result from treatment of breast cancer and secondly to diagnose and treat lymphoedema, one of the major complications of treatment.

Who is eligible?

This project is for women in the Sydney region, who have developed breast lymphoedema (chronic swelling in the region of the breast) following treatment for breast cancer.

What does this project involve?

All participants will undergo an initial assessment to determine whether the project is suitable for you. This assessment will look at areas such as arm and muscle strength, aerobic fitness and assessment of your breast lymphoedema. Women will be randomly allocated to one of two groups, exercise or control. Those in the exercise group will receive a 12 week exercise program at a gym at their preferred location, three times a week for 12 weeks, supervised by a personal trainer. Those in the control group will be contacted weekly to monitor their health and lymphoedema; however no exercise regime will be introduced to this group. Neither you nor the researchers will be able to decide which group you join.

Where is the project being conducted?

The project is being conducted by the University of Sydney (Cumberland campus) and the University of Queensland, Brisbane (St Lucia campus). For women who are part of the exercise group, the exercise program will be conducted at a gym at their preferred location.

How do I express interest in participating?

To get more information about this project:

  • Click on “Yes, I’m interested” at the bottom of this page and follow the prompts.
  • Call us on 1300 709 485 and we can help you through the process. Register4 is an online register, so have your email address ready.

After we verify your details, we will send you an invitation email. The invitation email formally asks whether you give Register4 permission to forward your contact details to the researcher. You will also have the opportunity to specify which contact details you would like us to send to the researcher on your behalf.