Oncology rehabilitation for breast cancer
Breast cancer and its treatment may affect your physical functioning and energy. For instance, many breast cancer treatments decrease estrogen in the body, which may decrease bone density. Exercise may be used to promote bone density and help lower the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Exercise may also help you manage treatment-related fatigue, especially during radiation treatments.
Our oncology rehabilitation team is available to help you overcome physical deficits, build strength, reduce pain and combat fatigue.
Oncology rehabilitation may support you during breast cancer treatment in these ways:
- Our oncology rehabilitation therapists are available to work with your surgical oncologist to help you prevent or reduce lymphedema by using drainage techniques, stretching exercises and massages.
- We may recommend scar and myofascial massage after surgery to decrease pain and discomfort.
- Therapeutic exercises and neuro-muscular training may help build strength and energy so you can continue to participate in activities that are important to you.
- Auriculotherapy may help alleviate some side effects of breast cancer treatments, such as nausea, pain and fatigue.
- The ReBuilder technique (which involves an electronic stimulation to the hands or feet) may help increase tactile sensory and awareness and reduce neuropathy caused by chemotherapy.
Throughout your breast cancer treatment, our rehabilitation therapists will be available to work with you and the other members of your care team to help improve your physical functioning and sense of well-being.
Our rehabilitation team also provides an educational component to help you understand the physical and psychological benefits of physical restoration, and to help prepare you and your family for continuing the program at home.
What is oncology rehabilitation?
Oncology rehabilitation includes a wide range of therapies designed to help you build strength and endurance, regain independence, reduce stress and maintain the energy to participate in daily activities that are important to you. Here are the rehabilitation therapies we offer patients:
Physical therapy: As part of your cancer treatment, our physical therapists may help you design an individualized exercise program that combines range-of-motion training with light resistance exercises. These therapeutic exercises aim to reduce fatigue and improve physical function, safety and well-being.
Occupational therapy: Our occupational therapists are available to help you with daily living activities that are important to your routine and quality of life, such as dressing, showering and eating.
Speech and language pathology: Many cancer patients may benefit from speech and language pathology. Therapists address problems you may be experiencing, including dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, loss of voice and cognitive changes that often result from cancer treatment.
Manual therapy: Our massage therapists may offer techniques designed to help reduce your cancer-related pain and improve your quality of life during your cancer treatment. Some manual therapy options include:
- Traditional massage
- Stone therapy
- Myofacial release
- Soft-tissue manipulation with passive stretching
- Effleurage massage
- Trigger point therapy
- Chiropractic care
Our chiropractors perform adjustments designed to address bone, muscle or joint pain without the use of drugs or surgery. Chiropractic care may also help to relieve symptoms such as neuropathy, nausea and headaches.
Auriculotherapy: This painless, non-invasive form of oncology rehabilitation stimulates the auricle of your external ear to help alleviate side effects of your cancer treatment, such as pain, nausea or fatigue.
ReBuilder: This therapy may be recommended if you experience peripheral neuropathy, a condition that causes pain, numbness, tingling or loss of reflexes in the hands and arms or legs and feet. ReBuilder is designed to increase tactile sensory and awareness with electronic stimulation to the affected area.
Lymphedema prevention and treatment: Lymphedema occurs when fluid collects in tissue and causes swelling. Our oncology rehabilitation team provides various non-surgical options to prevent lymphedema or reduce the swelling associated with it. After non-surgical therapeutic approaches have been exhausted, we may also recommend surgical options to treat lymphedema.
Additional services and programs: We offer several additional services and programs that are designed to promote recovery and improve your quality of life after radiation therapy, surgery or drug-based treatments. They include:
- Programs to address sexuality concerns
- Programs to address incontinence
- Weight management/movement program
- Healthy lifestyle coaching
- Support for fatigue and sleep disturbances
Experienced care team
Rehabilitation therapists are an important part of our care teams. With experience in all of the above treatment options, these therapists may offer a variety of services to help you manage side effects and improve your quality of life. Our therapists include licensed physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech pathologists.
Personalized treatment approach
We personalize treatment plans to the individual based on each person’s goals and experiences. Your care team would help you decide which oncology rehabilitation therapies may help achieve your goals. You may have one or more of the above therapies during the course of your treatment.