Physical therapists are medical professionals who specialize in using exercise to treat a variety of conditions. Physical therapists treat patients with post-surgical shoulders and knees, orthopaedic related pain; patients who have suffered a stroke, heart attack; patients who may have developmental delays or are at risk for frequent falls. Many people benefit from physical therapy with many different needs to be addressed. Patients who have cancer or who have had cancer in the past can also greatly benefit from physical therapy. Each and every one of us has been affected by cancer in some way, leading us to seek out the best treatment for ourselves or loved ones. Physical therapy is a great adjunct to treatment both, during or after cancer related treatments.
According to the British Journal of Cancer and the World Confederation of Physical Therapy, quality studies have noted a significant link to low physical activity and increased death from cancer. They have noted that moderate exercise reduces rate of death by 34% and improves the survival rate by 33%.1,2 Studies have shown that during cancer treatment, physical activity can improve upper and lower body strength and reduce fatigue.3 Another study showed a reduction in reoccurrence of cancer in women by 50% with exercise performed at least 3 hours per week.4
Studies clearly show a great link to the benefits of exercise for prevention and treatment for cancer related symptoms. Physical therapy may be a desired route of treatment for several additional reasons:
Each individual is unique in his or her response to illness, treatment, and overall experience when fighting cancer. Please consult with your physician prior to performing physical activity to allow optimal results for your personal needs.
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month:
*Cancer related side note: As a physical therapist I have my hands on each and every patient I treat. Therefore I have the unique ability to view the skin of many parts of the body on each individual. In my 8 years as a therapist, I have assisted in identifying abnormalities in at least 10 patients that have led to the diagnosis of cancer. Half of these patients were diagnosed with skin cancer. This is a good reminder to check your skin for spots that may look irregular and to be seen by a dermatologist regularly to catch whatever may need to be caught early enough. When identifying a spot on an individual that leads me to recommend the patient get it checked out, I remember the ABCDE system. For information on ABCDE go to: http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma/melanoma-warning-signs-and-images/do-you-know-your-abcdes
1. Orsini N, Mantzoros C S et al. Association of physical activity with cancer incidence, mortality, and survival: a population based study of men. British Journal of Cancer. 2008 98:1864-1869
2. World Confederation for Physical Therapy: http://www.wcpt.org/sites/wcpt.org/files/files/WPTDay11_Cancer_Fact_sheet_C6.pdf
3. Speck RM, Courneya KS et al. An update of controlled physical activity trials in cancer survivors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J. Cancer Surviv. 2010 Jun;4(2):87-100.
4. Holmes, MD, Chen WY et al. Physical activity and survival after breast cancer diagnosis. JAMA 2005 293: 2479-2486.