Breast Cancer Survival Guide: Physical & Clinical Updates

February 7, 2014 Tanya Wahl

A diagnosis of breast cancer sets into motion a whirlwind of appointments, tests, surgeries and possibly chemotherapy and radiation treatment. A new study reviewed the timeline between surgery and initiating chemotherapy for different subtypes of breast cancer and found a survival advantage when chemotherapy was initiated within 30 days of surgery. Although treating within the 30-60 post-surgical window did not show a statistically significant survival advantage, there is a trend towards better outcomes. Exceeding 60 days post treatment had a negative impact on survival. The clinical impact of timing is most relevant for patients with stage II and III breast cancer, triple negative breast cancer and HER2-positive tumors.
Treatment for breast cancer can be exhausting and take a toll on the physical health of patients as treatment ends and they begin post-treatment life. Cancer survivors are at an increased risk of poor health, depression and physical disability. Approximately one third of breast cancer survivors find fatigue interferes with their daily routine. Nearly 60% of cancer patients have sleep problems following treatment which increases fatigue and inflammation.
A recent trial evaluated the impact of yoga on inflammation, mood and fatigue in breast cancer survivors. The study participants were at least two months out of treatment and those assigned to the yoga group, participated in two 90-minute hatha yoga sessions per week. Reduction in fatigue was reported at the 3 month interval and an increase in vitality was immediate. Inflammation was measured through fasting blood samples and the positive impact on these blood markers was seen at 3 months. The yoga group reported improvement in sleep which likely had a positive effect on the fatigue and inflammation levels. The take-away is exercise is beneficial following cancer treatment.
As with any health issue, it is important to manage the disease and take care of the whole person. Our team believes in a personalized approach to help our patients reach their optimal outcome.

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