You might ask yourself, how can cancer and physical therapy be connected?
Cancer is one of the most challenging illnesses a person can experience. Cancer, in its many forms, has an effect on one’s overall function. Unlike some illnesses that just target the area or organs involved, cancer and the treatment for it can have lasting challenges for the entire individual.
Studies have shown that 70% of cancer patients during chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or after surgery, have very low energy and a much lower ability to function. 30% of cancer survivors report loss of energy for years after cancer treatment has stopped.
As you may imagine, lower physical fitness is a major reason for decreased quality of life in cancer survivors. Fatigue, especially, common for many cancer patients, has been linked to poor nutrition, trouble sleeping, mood problems, and lower activity levels. And if that wasn’t enough, it takes more effort to complete the most basic of every day tasks. Typically, people are advised to avoid physical activity.
However, sometimes those well intended recommendations can cause unintended results*. Inactivity induces muscle wasting, so, lengthy rest can produce further loss of function. But there is good new; cancer rehabilitation is a growing area of health care. There are more survivors and new, more effective treatments.
This is where physical therapy comes in. As we mentioned above, people who get treatment for cancer typically experience serious physical limitations during and after treatments. (These include and are not limited to: cancer-related fatigue (CRF), pain, nerve damage, lymphedema, deconditioning, and incontinence.)
According to Dr. Meryl Allapattu, “There is strong evidence to support conservative management of these impairments through physical therapy. As each individual experiences different impairments during and after cancer treatment, it is important to have an individualized evaluation to focus your rehabilitation.”
The good news is that it is never too late to start rehabilitation services for cancer recovery. If you find that you are having trouble with daily tasks or functioning at your prior level of independence, we might be able to help.
*we are NOT recommending you go against the advice of your provider. ALWAYS consult a medical professional before engaging in any kind of program or exercise.