Cancer-related lymphedema is a progressive and chronic syndrome of abnormal swelling and multiple symptoms resulting from cancer treatment. Even with modern medical advances, lymphedema remains a major health problem affecting thousands of cancer survivors. To provide healthcare professionals with evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for lymphedema treatment and management, a systematic review was conducted to evaluate 75 selected articles from 2009–2014 by the Oncology Nursing Society Putting Evidence Into Practice lymphedema team. Findings of the systematic review support complete decongestive therapy, compression bandages, and compression garments with highest evidence for best clinical practice. Weight management, full-body exercise, information provision, prevention, and early intervention protocols are likely to be effective for clinical practice. Historic recommendations for activity restriction and avoidance of aerobic and resistive exercises that limit cancer survivors’ daily lives have been challenged with more evidence. Cancer survivors may not need to restrict activities such as resistive or aerobic exercises and weightlifting with gradual exercise progression. Future research should focus on providing high-level evidence using randomized clinical trials with larger samples and studying lymphedema beyond breast cancer.
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