The Role of Physical Therapy In Recovering From Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer which is faced by a large number of women across the globe. If you talk specifically about the US, one in every 10 women struggles with breast cancer at some point in their lives.


This highly devastating disease develops from breast tissue and its most common signs include sudden changes in the shape of your breast and formation of red patches on your skin. In addition to that, you may also form a lump in the breast, and may experience the secretion of some sort of fluid from your nipple.


breast cancer and physical therapy


There are several different types of breast cancers which include recurrent, invasive, and non-invasive breast cancers and their potential to affect your health also varies. In addition to that, women also suffer from metastatic breast cancers. If you try to be specific about where this disease starts in your breast the answer include lobules and the ducts.


Detailed Description of Different Types of Breast Cancers


Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)


Cancer that starts in the milk ducts is popularly known as “Ductal carcinoma in situ” or DCIS. It is known as a non-invasive breast cancer and the main reason for that is, it stays limited to milk ducts. In other words, because ductal carcinoma in situ does not spread outside the milk duct, it is called as non-invasive breast cancer.


The good news is that this particular form of breast cancer does not pose any sort of threat to your life, means you can easily treat it. However, your failure to treat it effectively can cause invasive breast cancer which can prove to be really very harmful to you.


While treating this particular form of cancer, it’s important that you take radiation therapy, otherwise, there are huge chances of you experiencing recurrence after remission. It means if you go for lumpectomy (a surgical operation that is carried out to remove a lump) without radiation therapy, you can get back the disease after a couple of years.


Invasive Ductal Carcinoma – IDC


When cancer starting in your milk ducts spreads in the surrounding tissues it is called invasive ductal carcinoma – IDC. It is also known as infiltrating ductal carcinoma which can spread to the lymph nodes over a period of time. Some of the common signs of symptoms include breast pain, swelling of the breast, thickening of the nipple, and formation of a lump in underarms. In addition to that, women also experience irritation and redness in skin.


Women can suffer from this particular form of cancer at any age, but according to experts its risk among them increases as they grow older.


There are different subtypes of invasive ductal carcinoma and they are given below.


Tubular Carcinoma of the Breast

Medullary Carcinoma of the Breast

Mucinous Carcinoma of the Breast

Papillary Carcinoma of the Breast

Cribriform Carcinoma of the Breast


In addition to that, other types of breast cancer include Invasive Lobular Carcinoma -ILC, Inflammatory Breast Cancer, Lobular Carcinoma In Situ – LCIS.


If you talk particularly about Invasive Lobular Carcinoma, it is also very common among women across the world after invasive ductal carcinoma. The disease which is also known as infiltrating lobular carcinoma can have fatal consequences for the health of a woman’s breast. According to WebMD, around 10% of the total women suffering from invasive cancers are detected as having invasive lobular carcinomas.


On the other hand, the cases of Inflammatory breast cancer or IBC are found very rarely among women. For example, if you talk particularly about the United States, only 1% of women are detected with inflammatory breast cancer. It is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer that is found among women and its symptoms include reddened and swollen breast.


It’s extremely important for women to seek quick treatment if in case they find the symptoms of this rare disease because it sings and symptoms tend to worsen really fast. Yes, you can find that the symptoms of this rare disease begin to worsen just within a couple of days after their detection.


Lobular carcinoma in situ is the type of medical condition wherein abnormal cells begin to develop in the lobules – which are nothing but the glands that produce milk. It is a type of medical condition wherein the chances of women suffering from invasive breast cancer in the future increases like anything.


Treatment for Breast Cancer


In most of the cases, doctors suggest that the patients suffering from DCIS should go for Lumpectomy or the breast-conserving treatment followed by radiation therapy. However, if the condition is really severe then the doctor might suggest Mastectomy- which is nothing but the removal of the breast. In addition to that, when you talk about the treatment of invasive ductal carcinoma, you can either go for surgery and radiation therapy or chemotherapy and hormonal therapy.  


However when it comes to treating inflammatory breast cancer a more comprehensive treatment plan is designed which include different types of treatment options such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy etc.


breast cancer and physical therapy


Let’s Take A Look At The Role of Physical Therapy In Treating Breast Cancer


Though it is true that physical therapy is truly not the first treatment given for breast cancer, however, over the years it has been proved that PT helps a lot in the recovery process.


No matter how good a treatment you have received for treating your cancer, there are always chances of you struggling with physical limitations after it’s over. Some of these physical limitations include lymphedema, pain, and nerve damage. In addition to that, you also struggle with cancer-related fatigue or CRF. If you go for physical therapy like Innovative Physical Therapy it has the potential to address all these impairments.


Here is how physical therapy can treat common breast cancer-related impairments.


PT Is Very Helpful In Treating CRF


If you are looking forward to treating cancer-related fatigue, nothing can prove to be more helpful to you than physical therapy. Once you meet your physical therapist, they will examine your condition thoroughly and then design a unique treatment plan for you to fight CRF. Generally, the care plan developed by your therapist include strength training and personalized weight and aerobic training. In addition to that, they might also include functional management training when it comes to dealing with the CRF.


Lymphedema Can Also Be Treated With PT


For treating this medical condition, your therapist will include manual lymph drainage (a kind of message), and lymphatic bandaging in the treatment plan. In addition to that, depending upon your condition aerobic exercise may also be included in your care plan.


PT is Also Very Effective For Healing Peripheral Neuropathy


A lot of people struggle with Peripheral neuropathy (a medical condition characterized by abnormal nerve functioning) after their cancer treatment, and physical therapy can treat it effectively through different types of exercises.


So, if you want to experience a swift recovery from breast cancer, it’s better you take the support of physical therapy.


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