Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mastectomy – 10/6/09

Topic – Mastectomy: Lifting OK For Breast Cancer Survivors

According to a recent Associated Press article written by Marilynn Marchione, lifting by breast cancer patients may not have to cause painful arm swelling if the patient participates in weight lifting training.

A new study by Kathryn Schmitz, an exercise scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, funded by the federal government, found that women who were doing various lifting had fewer arm problems because they had better muscle tone. The report is detailed in the August issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Women who have had radiation to the armpit, or lymph nodes removed to check for cancer, can suffer lymphedema – a buildup of fluids that causes painful and unsightly swelling of the arms or hands, the article explains.

To avoid this, in the past, doctors have advised women to refrain from any lifting of toddlers, heavy purses, etc. But Schmitz challenged this with a yearlong study involving 141 breast cancer survivors. Half the patients continued their regular routine. The other half were given weightlifting classes. They wore custom-fitted compression garments on their affected arms and gradually increased their weigh training over time.

At the end of the study, fewer weightlifters suffered lymphedema flare-ups than the ones who did not participate in weightlifting (14 % of weightlifters vs. 29% of the others suffered flare-ups).

According to the article, Schmitz says patients should not rush into weight training because it could cause problems. She suggests…

- Have a certified fitness professional teach you how to exercise properly.

- Start slow, with a program that gradually progresses.

- Wear a well-fitting compression garment during workouts.