The Common Physical Effects of Battling Cancer

There are many more physical side effects of cancer than are listed here, but these are the most common. And yes all of them, we can minimize the pain and damage with the right exercise, the right type of exercise and the right dosage, which will vary from types of cancer, response to treatment and the type(s) of treatment for the cancer.

Lymphedema: Lymphedema is the swelling that occurs when lymph fluid builds up in the soft tissues of the limbs. It is caused by a problem in the movement of waste products (lymph) away from a limb (arm or leg). Lymphedema usually occurs in parts of the body where larger numbers of lymph nodes have been removed, such as the armpit (axilla), groin or pelvic area. They filter and clean body fluids, abnormal cells and cells that cause infections. The cleaned lymph is pumped back into the bloodstream, which btw is the pumping power of our muscle mass.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society Lymphedema occurs in about 20% of people who have had lymph nodes removed and from blockages, radiation, chemotherapy, surgery.

Cancer and treatments, lymphedema can all lead to serious issues with absorbing nutrients which can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, muscle loss, diarrhea, constipation – an upset in the balance and functioning of the digestive tract.

Muscular imbalances: Very common after surgery, and really, inevitable if an amputation was involved such as a mastectomy from breast cancer. Tightness or scar tissue is normal after radiation. People can go for physiotherapy – however without consistent, precision stretching and exercise follow up the area can revert back to an imbalanced position. Muscular imbalances can create joint pain, postural deviations even sleeping and breathing challenges. Postural assessments, range of motion assessments are a necessity.

Lack of energy, fatigue, restless sleep – the most common physical effect of cancer and cancer treatments. Chemotherapy and radiation can take a beating on heart and lung performance – therefore very careful cardio respiratory exercise is necessary – also to achieve the right oxygenation to the muscles. Oxidative stress is NOT what we are aiming for here and can also be more taxing on the body. This requires a very careful strategic protocol.

Muscle wasting – Unfortunately in general the most ignored aspect of aging – never mind cancer. Muscles are the ultimate example of use it or lose it. Between lack of absorption of nutrients, limited exercise, muscle cachexia devastates the body’s performance – in terms of musculo skeletal imbalances, as a metabolic factor controlling adiposity, critical for all and especially cancer patients. Muscle provides sugar absorption from the bloodstream so hopefully it’s not creating havoc and feeding cancer cells.

Depression – very common from all of the above – people become challenged in their every day functional performance, there is a number of reasons here. The compromised GI tract is a very serious issue here.

Bone loss: Painfully simplified here: hormonal therapies, chemo, the cancer itself affect gonadal hormone production which severely affects Bone Mass Density. Often a complication in breast cancer and prostate cancer. Lifestyle changes, including supplementation, diet, and proper exercise, can also slow the rate of bone loss.

I feel this article would be incomplete if I didn’t mention, please minimize sugar and alcohol. Please remember as wonderful as exercise is it is NOT a case of More, harder is better,… it is the right exercise after a full assessment is made. Exercise protocol can vary drastically between women with Prostate Protocol  breast cancer, men with prostate cancer, treatments, how the body is reacting to treatment, an endless list. But, there is so much we can do to minimize negative physical effects of cancer and it’s very necessary aggressive treatments. We can beat the cancer and alter the body’s biological terrain to be hostile to cancer cells, which means a long remission or hopefully being declared cancer free.

Shira Litwack, Medical Fitness Professional… proud creator of thousands of health enthusiasts & corporate health cultures world wide…

In Person & Telephone/Skype Health Coaching, Lifestyle & Weight Management Health Coach,Fitness & Nutrition for chronic illness recovery & self empowerment, addiction recovery, weight loss surgery coach