Breast cancer changes your life in many ways. Your body has changed because of surgeries, radiation, and or chemotherapy treatments. All of these changes can impact your physical, social, and psychological wellbeing. We offer services to help you feel the best you can feel as you travel throughout your cancer journey. Your medical team’s goal is to optimize your function so that you are best able to adjust to your new life.
Who is breast cancer rehabilitation for?
Patients can benefit from rehabilitation therapy from diagnosis, to treatment, to survivorship, or to end of life. When you are diagnosed with breast cancer, you should speak to your physician about your rehabilitation path. Breast cancer rehabilitation is recommended for those who:
- have undergone lumpectomy with sentinel node biopsy, lumpectomy with axillary dissection, mastectomy, or breast reconstructive surgeries
- are undergoing radiation and or systemic chemotherapy
- have finished chemotherapy and radiation and are dealing with the after effects of treatments
- are experiencing decreased abilities to reach or use their arms to push, pull, carry; arm swelling; shoulder girdle pain
- have scar formation or radiation induced skin changes
- have Lymphedema cognitive deficits such as short term memory or difficulty with executive planning
- cancer induced fatigue chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy or have decreased endurance
- are at risk for developing fractures from osteoporosis
- at the end of life and their family members who want to find easier ways to help care for them
What does breast cancer rehabilitation involve?
Every individual is unique and can be affected by cancer treatment differently. Some patients also have additional comorbidities such as cardiac, endocrine, or lung disease which impacts their overall function. Rehabilitation therapists design individualized treatment plans to restore the patient to the highest level of functioning based on an comprehensive assessment. Therapists do an intense evaluation of each patient focusing on functional abilities at present. They will design a program of therapeutic exercise and help you with progressing toward your functional goals.
What types of recovery/ outcomes can be expected from breast cancer rehabilitation?
Studies of breast cancer surgery patients have shown that a well-designed rehabilitation and exercise program has many benefits including:
- early functional use of the post surgical arm
- improved strength in upper and lower body
- greater flexibility in the shoulder joints
- reduced levels of fatigue
- better body image
- reduced anxiety levels