Science for Cancer Rehab
START WITH REHAB, THE TIMING OF REHAB MATTERS
This study demonstrated that PREHAB (having a rehab plan and exercise plan before any treatment interventions) reduced the occurrence of postoperative complications, reduced treatment related toxicities, optimizes treatment outcomes and increased the likelihood of survivorship (Fairuz et al. April 2018 and ). Studies have shown that prehab fitness is related to surgical outcomes and post-operatively patients demonstrate better psychosocial well-being (Myers et al. July 2016)
Catching the proliferation phase of healing when tissue can be impacted and rehabbing a patient while undergoing radiation is vital in maintaining tissue extensibility, as oppose to waiting weeks post radiation after that window has closed.
REHAB NEEDS OF THOSE WITH CANCER ARE NOT BEING MET
"Fewer than 10% of cancer survivors will be active during their primary treatments and only about 20%-30% will be active after they recover from treatments" (Rock et al.). A study of over 5000 cancer patients showed that the majority of patients report joint pain, dizziness and cardiorespiratory deficits as their main symptoms through treatment (MD Anderson 2007).
The need for rehab support is immense; as an example in the United States as little as 1-2% of those with cancer related impairments are seeking help. study access
CANCER PATIENTS IN COPENHAGEN ARE FIGHTING PHYSICAL DETERIORATION WITH EXERCISE
This article in The Scientist features many studies and upcoming research in the area of exercise activity and its related ANTI-CANCER pathways.
BMI AND WEIGHT FLUCTUATIONS INCREASE THE RISK OF LYMPHEDEMA!
Although lymphedema is not the most reported symptom, it can occur and patients can be stratified into different risk categories. This study included breast cancer patients and demonstrates that a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) correlates with an increased risk of lymphedema. Patients can reduce risk greatly through weight monitoring strategies, prescribed compression and exercise.
EXERCISE DURING STEM CELL TRANSPLANTS ARE A GOOD THING!
Although the parameters need further research, this systematic review/meta-analysis confirms that exercise during hospitalization for patients undergoing allogenic stem cell transplantation can lead to a higher quality of life and less fatigue at discharge.
CANCER REHAB WORKS
This was a cochrane review specific to breast cancer, the following was found:
"patients benefit from exercise interventions that include more structured instruction and/or supervision when compared to exercise instruction via a pamphlet or no exercise instruction [...] larger benefits were found for shoulder [range of motion] and shoulder function outcomes from physical therapy treatment that was introduced as PRE-HAB before surgery. (McNeely, et al. 2010).
Dr. Julie Silver a professor at Harvard Medical School is a strong advocate for PRE-HAB, access to rehab planning prior to treatment is correlated with shorter hospital stays and fewer treatment complications.