- Question from Wendy: Professor Irwin, emerging research, including yours, indicates that exercise may be as important to breast cancer survival as the usually prescribed hormone or chemo therapy. Yet few physicians put exercise in the same status as other "prescriptions" and do not routinely offer it as an option to women. What do you believe are the best means for changing physician attitudes and prompting insurance companies to pay for exercise programs?
- Answers - Melinda Irwin Insurance companies probably won't reimburse exercise programs until the research is more definitive. So with current trials and future studies, hopefully the research will continue to show a strong association between physical activity and improved breast cancer prognosis. Physicians usually don't recommend something that is not necessarily reimbursable, so they tend to discuss other medications or treatment options that are reimbursable. Also, the oncologist may not be knowledgeable about what type of exercise, or what intensity and frequency, especially since the research is in its infancy in this field. Hopefully, within the next year or two there will be more research showing the causes and effects of physical activity on breast cancer. Until then, we know that physical activity is favorably associated with other diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and therefore women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer should be recommended for physical activity because of associations with those diseases as well.
- Cyndi Thomson, Ph.D., R.D. A patient is their own best advocate. Some of the most influential people in changing health care practice are patients. Letting physicians know that this is important to you will, in the long run, have an influence.
- Melinda Irwin Some insurance companies, I don't know which ones, are reimbursing for, say, gym memberships or renting equipment for the home. So you should call your insurance company and find out if they offer those reimbursements for those purchases.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Weight Management During and After Breast Cancer Treatment featured Cyndi Thomson, Ph.D., R.D. and Melinda Irwin Ph.D., M.P.H. answering your questions on managing weight during and after breast cancer treatment.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in April 2007.
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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