Breast Cancer Rehab
The breast cancer experience is complex. Breast cancer and its treatments can affect all aspects of life during and after treatment and can cause impairments that affect daily function and quality of life. A proactive approach is imperative to reduce the likelihood of late effects of treatment and surgery.
Physical therapy after breast cancer treatment is important to improve your overall outcome. Whether educating you on post-treatment exercises or your participation in our breast cancer rehab program, our physical therapists can assist in ensuring your optimal recovery.
When breast cancer–related physical impairments occur, they often go unrecognized and untreated, eventually reaching levels that negatively impact function.
Because early detection improves recovery, we follow the Prospective Surveillance Model (PSM) for breast cancer care. PSM provides a standardized framework for assessment to detect impairments early throughout the breast cancer continuum.
Treatments for breast cancer typically include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and endocrine therapies, which introduce a variety of physiologic effects known to adversely impact body structure and function. Treatment also is known to adversely affect physical function, body weight, and cardiovascular health. These impairments may adversely affect patients' participation in activities of daily living and employment and negatively affect healthy lifestyle behaviors such as regular exercise. Although there may be the impression that these issues are uncommon, emerging evidence indicates that a majority of women experience 1 or more of these physical impairments and suffer from the aggregate burden of impairments, comorbidities, and disease treatment.
Because breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women with relatively high overall survival rates, a comprehensive model of survivorship care that focuses on improving the physical function of women living with breast cancer is needed.
Common Impairments after Breast Cancer Treatment
Common Impairments Associated with Breast Cancer include:
- Joint pain
- Shoulder range of motion restrictions
- Weakness / Postural issues
- Muscular pain / tightness
- General deconditioning because of inactivity
- Radiation fibrosis
- Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy
- Axillary Cording
Impairments may occur months or even years after treatment ends.
Our Assessment Protocol for Breast Cancer Rehab
Preoperative Breast Cancer Care Evaluation
At the time of a breast cancer diagnosis, we document baseline measurements of overall function, joint range of motion, strength and baseline volumetric measurements of the upper extremities. We identify any prior physical impairments that may affect tolerance to cancer treatments. Each patient is instructed on a post-operative exercise program as well as education on recommended activity levels during cancer treatments. Rehab interventions and exercise education can help reduce the physical deconditioning which is a common condition experienced by cancer survivors because of inactivity during cancer treatments.
After surgery, we assess pain levels, joint range of motion, strength, and volumetric measurements of the upper extremities. The post-operative evaluation assists your cancer care team in identifying any post-surgical problems that can be addressed by a rehabilitation professional to enable optimal healing. Rehab interventions after surgery can help reduce the physical impairments common after breast cancer surgery.
At predetermined intervals, we repeat baseline measurements to identify changes and detect impairments early. Early detection of problems is often the key to preventing further disability, pain or loss of function.
Don't let breast cancer treatment affect your quality of life.
We Can Help
Talk to your doctor today about a breast cancer rehab referral today.