Cancer has become the leading cause of illness. Fatigue is the chief complaint of most of the cancer patients.Many cancer patients undergoing treatment are left feeling weak and exhausted. Simply getting up in the morning, doing basic activities of daily living also become herculean tasks.
The truth is that maintaining muscle activity is essential while on the road to recovery. fatigue in cancer patients is due to the loss of muscle mass which makes them bed ridden. Physiotherapy can help you with overall pain management, counter act the de-conditioning from prolonged periods of inactivity, residual drug and chemotherapy induced nerve damage and various other health issues that come with the diagnosis.
Medical management of cancer
1) Radiation therapy- Radiation therapy uses high-powered energy beams, such as X-rays or protons, to kill cancer cells. Radiation treatment can come from a machine outside your body (external beam radiation), or it can be placed inside your body (brachytherapy)
2) Surgery - The goal of surgery is to remove the cancer or as much of the cancer as possible. Most people with cancer will have some type of surgery. If the cancer has not spread to other organs and tissues, surgery usually helps increase chances of survival to a great extent
3) Chemotherapy- Anticancer drugs are cyto-toxic. This means they kill all rapidly growing cells of the body including cancer cells. This also means that chemotherapeutic drugs affect healthy fast growing cells like bone marrow cells, cells that line the gastrointestinal tract .
Note- there are several side effects of above treatment . Pain, hairloss, weakness, anaemia, shortness of breath, skin blemishes, lymphedema, fibrosis of lungs, loss of appetite, bowel cramping, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, sexual problems arises in both male and females. Memory loss, impaired cognition. Osteoporosis, internal bleeding, allergies and many more..
Universal truth is that if once metastasis starts in cancerous cells than chances of survival declines. So instead of focusing on its treatment, focus on quality of rest life. Physiotherapist can help cancerous patient in maintaining their activities of daily living without fatigue. Physiotherapy not only help in gaining muscle strength but will also improve breathing and coordination .
Exercise planning and prescription for cancer patients.
Exercise can improve mood, boots self confidence, reduce fatigue.
1) Stretching- Stretching regularly can improve flexibility and posture. It helps increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the muscles, and it can help your body repair itself. Stretching is often helpful if you have been inactive while recovering from cancer treatments. For example, radiation therapy can limit your range of motion and cause your muscles to stiffen, and regular stretching during and after can improve mobility and flexibility. After surgery, stretching can help break down stiff scar tissue and restore range of motion in order to get you back to regular activities of daily life.
2) balancing exercises - Loss of balance can be a side effect of cancer and its treatment. Balance exercises can help you regain the function and mobility you need to return to your daily activities safely. Maintaining good balance also helps prevent injuries, such as falls.
3) Aerobic exercises- This kind of exercise is also known as cardio, a type of exercise that raises your heart rate. It strengthens the body's heart and lungs and can help you feel less tired during and after treatment. Walking is an easy way to get aerobic exercise. For example, your health care team may suggest walking 40 to 50 minutes, 3 to 4 times per week, at a moderate pace.
4) Strength training( very imp) -Muscle loss often happens when a person is less active during cancer treatment and recovery. Some treatments also cause muscle weakness. Strength training, or resistance training, helps you maintain and build strong muscles. Increasing muscle mass can help improve your balance, reduce fatigue, and make it easier to do daily activities. It can also help fight osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones that some cancer treatments can cause.
Suggested amount of exercises ( frequency) : As per (ACSM)
1)Try to get at least 150 to 300 minutes of exercise at a moderate level of intensity every week. You can do this by exercising for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. The table in the “Exercise Intensity Levels” section gives examples of moderate-intensity exercises.
2)Aim for 2 to 3 strength training sessions a week. These sessions should focus on your major muscle groups: your chest, shoulders, arms, back, abdomen (belly), and legs. Examples of strength training exercises are push-ups and sit-ups, using resistance bands, and lifting weights
3)Stretch your major muscle groups at least 2 times a week.
Exercise intensity as per (ACSM)
1) when doing light intensity- You’re not out of breath.You do not break out into a sweat. You can talk and sing without stopping for a breath.
2) when doing moderate intensity- You breathe faster, but you’re not out of breath. You break out into a light sweat.You can talk but not sing.
NOTE- Avoid doing any thing hight intensity or strenous for cancer patients.