Exercise for Breast Cancer Patients

Oct31st 2019

Why exercise is good for breast cancer patients 

Each year about 268,600 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Many breast cancer patients have musculoskeletal limitations before, during, and after treatment. It is common to experience decreased range of motion (ROM), stiffness, lymphedema, and pain after surgery. This leaves people unable to move, which perpetuates stiffness and limitations in ROM; It can even get in the way of further cancer treatments like radiation. If the patient cannot lift their arm up far enough, radiation cannot be performed in all the necessary areas. 

It’s also common to experience fatigue and a decrease in ability to perform normal functions. Fatigue can be reduced by regular aerobic and strength exercises. It is important that these exercises are conducted by trained professionals to insure the best outcomes and safety precautions.  

Take Home Message 

1) Talk to you Doctor before performing physical activity.  

2) Exercise is beneficial to protect patients from comorbid conditions.  

early intervention with physical therapy to restore and maintain arm and

shoulder mobility after surgery is optimal to reduce overall morbidity.” (1) 

3) Early intervention helps wound drainage and ROM 

4) It’s important for the exercises to be structured. 

5) There is no risk of lymphedema due to exercise. 

6) Programs should include: 

        • Active, passive, and active assisted ROM 
        • Stretching 
        • Strength exercises 
        • Aerobic activities  

 What we Offer:  

We have a comprehensive cancer and fatigue program. 

Our Physical Therapist and Massage Therapists work with all kinds of cancer patients, specializing in women with breast cancer. We can help you whether you have been treated for cancer or are currently in a cancer treatment program. We’ll be with you, giving you one-on-one care and encouragement. Check out our Cancer Fatigue Program to find out how we can help you. https://requestphysicaltherapy.com/cancer-fatigue-program/ 


1) https://academic.oup.com/ptj/article/93/10/1291/2735486 

2) http://www.apta.org/PTinMotion/News/2015/7/22/FatigueBreastCancer/  

3) https://www.cancercenter.com/community/blog/2019/05/physical-therapy-after-breast-surgery  

4) https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/breast-cancer/statistics