physical therapy and ovarian cancer

Physical Therapy and Ovarian Cancer

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physical therapy and ovarian cancer

Every 23 minutes, a woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which is the number one cause of gynecologic cancer deaths. September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and in honor of that, here is some information on what exactly ovarian cancer is and how adding physical therapy into a treatment plan can be beneficial.

What is Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian Cancer is a disease where different types of malignant tumors develop in the ovaries and eventually can spread to the pelvis and abdomen in later stages. Early on, it is easier to treat and the treatments are more successful. Unfortunately, the disease is most often caught in the later stages when its harder to treat because this is when the symptoms first start to present themselves. Other lesser health problems share many early symptoms of ovarian cancer such as fatigue, changes in menstruation, and bloating, which leads to ovarian cancer often being misdiagnosed as more common health issues.

Physical Therapy and Ovarian Cancer

Because physical therapy may not be the first route of healthcare cancer patients think of, most people are unaware of how helpful it can be to add it into a cancer patients exercise regimen. There is recent research on how adding physical therapy into a patient’s treatment plan can improve daily function, quality of life and health. Not only can it be helpful during treatment, but also during recovery. Because of the ever-increasing survival rate of cancer, more recovery strategies, like physical therapy, are being studied.

The course of treatment for cancer is grueling and leaves many patients exhausted and sometimes incapable of doing mundane tasks. Individualized exercise programs can be designed by physical therapists to be both safe and practical for each patient. There are certain things that should be taken into consideration by your physical therapist while discussing a new exercise program:

  • Current Exercise Regimen
  • Physical Limitations
  • Capabilities During/Post Treatment

It is recommended to do both moderate and vigorous exercises before, during, and after the treatment of ovarian cancer to improve the outcome as well as prevent recurrence. Some examples of this are:

  • Moderate Bike Riding
  • Brisk Walking
  • Badminton
  • Hiking
  • Jogging
  • Basketball

There are certain things that should be taken into consideration by your physical therapist while discussing a new exercise program:

  • Current Exercise Regimen
  • Physical Limitations
  • Capabilities During/Post Treatment

The main focus of creating an exercise program for a cancer patient is to simply increase heart rate and muscle flexion through minimal physical exertion in order to boost tolerance for treatments. Things you can expect to be included in a physical therapy program for ovarian cancer patients may include:

  • Flexibility Exercises
  • Strength Training
  • Range-of-Motion Training
  • Light Resistance Exercises
  • Cardiovascular Activity

If you are interested in adding physical therapy to your treatment plan, talk to your doctor to refer you to a physical therapist who specializes in working with oncology patients.