Cancer Survivor Rehab
Cancer survivorship program
Cancer survivorship starts at the time of cancer diagnosis and physical therapy can help in a number of ways in all stages along the way.
Survivors need to know it is safe and important to be as active as safely possible for them during each stage of survivorship. Physical activity recommendations for cancer survivors, in general, are the same as recommendations for healthy adults. For those unable to meet these recommendations, it is important to be as active as possible. Any activity is better than none and a physical therapist can help tailor a physical activity program to meet individual needs.
Physical activity recommendations:
- 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise
- 2 days per week of total body resistance training
Appropriate physical activity has significant scientific support to reduce the risk of several cancers (secondary cancers are a risk factor of most cancer treatments). It also has been show to improve quality of life and some health indicators after diagnoses.
Maintaining a healthy weight is very important. Obesity increases cancer risk and mortality. American Cancer Society (ACS) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend maintaining BMI within 18.9-24.9 range and avoiding increases in waist circumference.
Cardiovascular (CV) implications: Without intervention, individuals undergoing active cancer treatment lose CV fitness. With only a moderate level of physical activity, fitness can be maintained or gained during cancer treatment. This has very important implications for maintaining current functional status and is especially important for elderly to maintain their independence.
After cancer treatments are completed, survivors still tend to lose CV fitness if no intervention is made, and significant fitness can be made with an appropriate physical activity routine.
Cancer related fatigue: This is a common but not fully understood side effect of cancer and treatments. Fatigue leads to decreased activity which leads to deconditioning and more fatigue. This creates a vicious cycle and intervention can help prevent or minimize the deconditioning.
Muscular strength implications: During and after cancer treatments, survivors tend to lose muscular strength. Resistance training is safe and effective but with certain at risk populations, specific guidance is important to decrease the risk of complications such as lymphedema.
Pain: Pain is a common complaint among cancer survivors, and many of these musculoskeletal sources of pain. A thorough evaluation can help determine the sources of pain and identify those that will benefit from physical therapy intervention