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Friday, April 27, 2012

Guest Post - Getting Active in the Fight Against Cancer

Getting Active in the Fight Against Cancer

A diagnosis of cancer was once, and still is by too many people, considered to be a death sentence. Advances in treatment, new treatment options, and advanced diagnostic tools have combined to greatly increase the odds for patients. Modern techniques have likewise led to fewer complications from treatment and better management of symptoms. A new understanding about the role of exercise during every phase of treatment is making treatment even more successful while also improving quality of life and reducing reliance on pharmaceutical medications.

Exercise Recommendations Follow Research

The leading research organizations are currently recommending that every cancer patient engage in a regular fitness routine. Guidelines have been developed to support the beneficial use of exercise for the most common forms of cancer and treatment, and doctors have been advised to help patients achieve their fitness goals by working with a physical therapist.

Research has shown that exercise is applicable even in cases where it may seem contraindicated by the cancer, such as during treatment for mesothelioma or lung cancer. The benefits highlighted by studies on colorectal cancer have consistently been replicated and expanded. It was found that modest amounts of exercise provided significant gains in both preventing cancer recurrence and making treatment more successful. Treatment outcomes that were once thought to be subject only to genetic predisposition of the patient are now understood to hinge on lifestyle factors, such as balanced nutrition and physical fitness.

In the studies on colorectal cancer, chance of death from the cancer was reduced by 40-61 percent. The risk of recurrence was reduced by 40-57 percent. As a side benefit, the risk of death from any cause was reduced by the same amount. This is only one side to the benefits of engaging in physical fitness. The other side can be thought of as short-term benefits. Patients have reported in study after study that exercise helps in managing common symptoms. Fatigue, rapid weight changes, emotional disorders, and digestive upset can all either be moderated or eliminated entirely with responsible use of exercise. Reducing reliance on medications is a major benefit for patients, because the commonly used drugs can be expensive and typically cause side effects.

Individualizing the Workout Program

Since no two patients have the same fitness profile, the same cancer, and the same treatment program, it stands to reason that workout routines will have to be individualized for each patient. Those in outpatient treatment programs will have the widest range of exercise options. Special consideration must be given in many cases. Breast or prostate cancer treatment often involves the use of hormones, and weight-bearing exercise will be needed to prevent bone loss. During radiotherapy or chemotherapy, patients will often have trouble sustaining motivation, and programs that include family and friends will be useful.The best source of advice for exercise recommendations during cancer treatment is a physical therapist trained in cancer care.  The doctor will also be able to help by providing any contraindications. Exercise offers a unique method of building health during treatment.
By David Haas
Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Check out the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance blog at http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog

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