Specialist Physiotherapy In Cancer Care
Addressing physical complaints as a result of cancer and cancer treatments, from diagnosis through to post-treatment rehabilitation.
Physiotherapy might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and are facing harsh treatments or recovery, however there are many areas we can help. By addressing difficulties early, for example problematic scars post-surgery, tightness and reduced range of movement with radiotherapy, or fatigue during and after chemotherapy, we can help to prevent later complications and get you back to the activities you enjoy quicker.
Cancer treatments take their toll on the body, not just at the site of the cancer but further afield too, so eradicating the disease is not the end of treatment. Due to advances in early diagnosis and treatments of cancer, many people are surviving longer, but with lasting side-effects of treatments, they may not be living well. Fatigue, weight changes, reduced heart function, lymphoedema and depression are just a few of the many common side-effects people can experience. A study conducted for Macmillan Cancer Support indicated 71% of people living after cancer experienced at least one of these symptoms more than 10 years after treatment¹, and in metastatic breast cancer alone, a separate study found 92% of ladies reported being left with one or more physical impairments².
There is a growing body of evidence to support the huge benefits of physical activity during and after cancer treatment. Research conducted in breast and bowel cancer highlight doing the correct level of exercise can reduce the risk of recurrence of the disease³. In their Move More report, Macmillan Cancer Support claim physical activity to be an underrated ‘wonder drug’ believing the benefits to be so positive that if it were a medication, everyone would be put on it! Sometimes people living with and beyond cancer, or indeed their friends and families, can be nervous about the safety of activity and exercise during and after treatment. Specialist cancer physiotherapists can help to guide you back into activity and exercise, whatever stage of the cancer journey you are in.
Below are some of the complications we can help with before, during and after cancer treatments, plus some of the services we have on offer;
Manual physiotherapy, including massage and joint mobilisations, will be used to assist in the treatment of post-surgical scars, the reduction of treatment related side-effects, and easing muscular pain and tension. We are experienced in treating many cancer specific presentations, including cording following breast cancer, and shoulder dysfunction post head and neck surgery.
We can guide you with exercising safely during cancer treatment, and pre- and post-cancer surgery. Suitable exercise is important in helping improve your body confidence and control. Correct muscle strengthening must also be addressed to enable you to return to pre-treatment activities.
Advice on the right type and level of activity will enable you to be as fit as possible pre-surgery, but also assist in rehabilitation post-surgery. We are experienced in addressing fatigue, a common symptom with cancer treatment, and will advise on activity and coping strategies. Lymphoedema is also a risk following some treatments, and we will advise you on appropriate activity and management of this condition (and also signpost you to lymphoedema specialists if required).
Kinesio taping is not appropriate in every condition, but can sometimes be used as an excellent adjunct to other treatments, for example when addressing muscular tension, scars, and the management of lymphoedema.
There are many different types of cancer and many different types of treatments, so side-effects will vary greatly from one person to the next. To ensure we address what’s important to you we will carry out a thorough assessment prior to any physiotherapy treatment.
If you’re wondering whether we can help you, or you have any questions about our services then please get in touch
- It’s no life. Living with the long-term effects of cancer. 2009. Macmillan Cancer Support, London.
- Cheville AL, Troxel AB, Basford JR, Kornblith AB. Prevalence and treatment patterns of physical impairments in patients with metastatic breast cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2008;26:2621-2629.
- Macmillan Cancer Support (2011) The importance of physical activity for people living with and beyond cancer: A concise evidence review.