Exercise program after breast cancer surgery?


Question from EKatz: What is the physical exercise program utilized in the University of Pittsburgh study regarding exercise, post-surgery breast cancer, and lymphedema?
Answers - Kathy D. Miller, M.D. The short answer is exercise is not bad!
Kristin Brill, M.D., F.A.C.S. Usually surgeons will evaluate patients postoperatively for range of motion and risk of lymphedema. We know women who have had a complete axillary dissection and especially women who have had radiation to the chest wall and axilla are at higher risk for developing lymphedema. Being evaluated by a physical therapist postoperatively can be good in maintaining range of motion and reducing the risk of developing chronic lymphedema.
Kathy D. Miller, M.D. There have been a couple of studies recently looking at exercise, specifically in women with lymphedema. There had always been a concern that exercise, particularly resistance training with lifting light weights, might increase the risk of lymphedema or the severity of lymphedema. In the recent studies, that was not true. The women who participated in exercise with the supervision of a physical therapist had less trouble with lymphedema and better function of their arms.

On Tuesday, December 15, 2009, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Updates from the 2009 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Kathy Miller, M.D. and Kristin Brill, M.D., F.A.C.S. answered your questions about the latest updates on breast cancer risk, screening techniques, treatment options, and more.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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