Once a Taboo, Exercise Becomes Post-Cancer-Surgery Rehab Tool

May 15, 2012

LDI Health Economist

Not many revolutions in medical thinking have been driven by fleets of dragon boats rowed by female cancer survivors. But tests of such an unlikely form of therapy in 1996 led to what has become today's new approach to upper body rehabilitation after breast surgery and radiation treatment.Beyond that, the work of researchers like the University of Pennsylvania'a Kathryn Schmitz suggests these discoveries about the benefit of vigorous exercise may have implications for cancer patients in general.

Breast surgery and radiation treatments can damage the lymph system in a manner that can cause lymphedema, a chronic and sometimes painful buildup of fluid under the skin of the arm or shoulder. Until three years ago, many physicians routinely warned patients with this condition to avoid carrying anything or lifting anything heavier than 5-15 pounds -- ever again. "Rest. Take it easy. Don't push yourself" was the advice that sentenced cancer survivors to a physically limited life... Read More