Lymphoedema is an accumulation of fluid that occurs in the limb due to altered lymph drainage pathways. All women who undergo breast cancer surgery are at risk of developing lymphoedema especially if they have undergone axillary lymph removal and/or radiation therapy. Lymphoedema may not appear until months or even years post treatment.
Physiotherapy plays an essential role in prevention and treatment of lymphoedema through exercises, lymphatic drainage massages and compression therapy.
Decreased range of motion, weakness, paraesthesia, rotator cuff strain, adhesive capsulitis and bursitis are common in the upper extremity post breast cancer surgery and/or radiation therapy. These symptoms can impact activities of daily living and result in decreased quality of life.
Physiotherapy is effective in managing post-surgical musculoskeletal symptoms.
Loss in bone density and fatigue are frequently caused by cancer treatment yet poorly managed symptoms reported by cancer patients. Physiotherapists can help cancer patients manage fatigue and improve bone density by designing a graduated weight bearing exercise program to increase strength and energy levels and provide advice. Specialist Sports and Spinal Physiotherapy is currently completing a research project in conjunction with Professor Arleen Chan of Breast Cancer WA to investigate the effect of exercise on fatigue during treatment.