Jane Armer says patients at risk for lymphedema can exercise if they closely monitor their activities. “Exercise can be beneficial and not harmful for breast cancer survivors,” he said. “Each individual should balance the pros and cons of the activity she chooses, but keep in mind that being sedentary has risks and being active is beneficial in many ways, including possibly reducing the risk of cancer recurrence.”
Lymphedema can occur any time after cancer treatment and is usually caused by the removal or radiation of lymph nodes as part of the treatment process. Armer found that patients who exercise had no greater risk for developing lymphedema than those who do not exercise. In addition, patients with lymphedema did not worsen their condition by exercising. She says future research is needed to determine whether exercise prevents the condition.
“Breast cancer survivors do not need to restrict their activity as we once thought,” Armer said. “If patients want to be active, they should carefully condition their bodies by increasing repetitions of resistance exercises under proper supervision.”
“Many people think surgery will correct the underlying lymphatic problem, but that is not correct,” Armer said. “There are several surgical techniques that may reduce the swelling associated with lymphedema. In most cases, it is recommended that patients undergo traditional therapy using specialised massage and compression garments and bandages to reduce fluid and swelling before considering surgery.”
Established in 2008, the American Lymphedema Framework Project (ALFP) aims to increase awareness of lymphedema, improve patient care and enhance training for professionals caring for persons at risk or with cancer-related lymphedema. The ALFP has two main goals: maintain up-to-date best practices supported with evidence-based lymphedema treatment guidelines for health practitioners, and create a minimum data set of all available lymphedema research and clinical data.
MEDICA.de; Source: University of Missouri