Case study: exercise may boost survivorship

Breast cancer has become a chronic epidemic in recent years, causing an estimated number of 231,840 women and 2,350 men to be diagnosed with it in 2015, as reported by the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

Luckily, there are many practices that can increase breast cancer survivorship. Advances in medical research suggest that developing individualized proactive fitness plans can greatly impact outcomes of breast cancer survivors.

A case study of a 57-yearr-old female who was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer, characterized by the formation of carcinoma of 1.2 centimeters (0.47 inches), indicates that physical exercise during and after cancer treatment helps maintain physiologic function of the patient.

During the chemotherapy and radiation treatment phase and post-treatment phase, the patient performed 424 exercise sessions throughout 391 days of the experiment. The fitness plan was comprised of running, cycling, walking, yoga and Pilates.

After completing the fitness plan, the patient maintained stable weight and body fat percentage. This investigation shows the importance of continuous and moderate physical activity during and after the treatment of breast cancer.

In many cases, chemotherapy and radiation cause symptoms that are similar to overtraining in athletes, such as rapid loss of weight, decreased appetite and muscle weakness. To avoid these symptoms, planned training sessions should be developed to increase recovery capacity by balancing load and strain associated with training in the cancer survivor.

This study can provide opportunities for physicians and physical therapists to work on specific fitness goals with patients of different medical histories.

Physician-scientists at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine got a head start on a National Institute of Health-funded study that addresses functional disability in breast cancer patients.

“Our aim is that this early intervention will lead to improvement in the functional and health status of this group, optimizing their long-term benefits from breast cancer treatment,” said Cynthia Owusu, MD, principal investigator of the study.

Establishment of individualized exercise programs can translate into increased breast cancer survivorship.