More than 3 million men and women in the United States are living with a history of Breast Cancer. Cancer treatment, although often effective, can lead to short-term and long-term side effects that cannot be ignored.
Did You Know?
Did you know that, in patients treated for breast cancer:
- 50% will have decreased shoulder motion.
- 0%-40% will have lymphedema after the removal of lymph nodes.
- Early detection and treatment of lymphedema can reduce the risk of, or the severity of, the swelling
- 30-40% will have numbness, tingling, and/or foot pain after chemotherapy. This is called ‘Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy’ and can affect your balance and increase your fall risk.
- Almost 50% will have pain that lasts 2-3 years after surgery.
Some medical providers as well as patients are unaware of how physical therapists can help these issues list above. After all, the goal of cancer care is not just to get rid of the cancer, but to help you get back on your feet again.
Physical Therapy for Breast Cancer Patients
If you, or anyone you know, is going to, is currently having, or has had treatment for breast cancer, it may be worth a few minutes to ask how they are doing. If they have any pain. If they can reach overhead without pain or pulling. If they received education about lymphedema, or if they have noticed any swelling or lymphedema in their hand, arm, or chest wall on the side lymph nodes were removed.
Ask if they can do everything they need and want to do … and if not, encourage them to see a PT.
PT of Costa Rican National Soccer Team for 2007 World Cup in Victoria, CAN. Clinical Instructor for University of Minnesota Doctor of Physical Therapy Affiliations