Breast cancer is one of the commonest
cancers among women in the world. Statistics indicate that breast cancer is
more prevalent in developed countries such as the US, England and Australia
than developing countries such as Nepal or Rwanda. The incidence of breast
cancer also differs among ethnicity. For example, breast
is the most common cancer prevalent in African American women,
but breast cancer rate is still lower in them as compared with white women.
irrespective of whether you are from a developed country or a developing
country or your ethnicity, if breast cancer is diagnosed early, it will
increase the chances of successful treatment.
Breast Cancer Symptoms and Diagnosis
If you are 50
or over 50 years of age, get breast screening done. But whatever age you are,
feel your breasts and armpits, and look out for the following changes:
Lump in your breast or armpit •
Consistent pain in your breast or armpit •
Swelling under the armpits •
One breast lower than the other one •
Inverted nipple •
Rash on nipples or discharge from nipples or change in the shape of the nipple •
Dimpling in the skin of the breast
Not all lumps
or swellings are cancerous. They may be benign. If you notice anything unusual,
check with your ob-gyn as early as possible. If your doctor thinks your
symptoms need further assessment, you will be referred to special breast clinic
where you may have to get the following tests done:
and breast ultrasound •
If breast cancer is diagnosed, you will
have to go in for breast cancer treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy
, hormone therapy and other treatments. Regardless of the type
of treatment, you will need to take good care of yourself by eating healthy, getting
sufficient rest to deal with fatigue, and exercise regularly.
now confirmed that physical activity can improve survival after breast cancer
Physical Activity and Breast Cancer
The first scientific evidence that physical
reduces breast cancer
was provided three decades ago. Since then, the breast cancer
research community has been researching on various aspects of physical activity
associated with breast cancer risk reduction and also to improve breast cancer
survival after diagnosis. For example, scientists are conducting trials to
determine the exact type, dose, and timing of physical activity required to
improve breast cancer survival.
A number of
studies were undertaken globally to determine the exact dose of physical
activity required to reduce breast cancer risk. The World Cancer Research Fund
along with other international agencies recommended 4 to 7 hours per week of
moderate to vigorous activity to substantially reduce the risk
. Benefits of physical activity in breast cancer
activity after a diagnosis of breast cancer can help:
Improve quality of life •
Reduce fatigue •
Assist with energy balance
reported that moderate exercise in the form of walking 3 to 5 hours per week
at an average pace after being diagnosed with breast cancer can improve
survival rates compared with more sedentary women.
physical activity can have beneficial effects on fitness and psychological
well-being of women undergoing breast cancer treatment.
So, how does
exercising benefit breast cancer survival?
Exercising helps you maintain a healthy weight. Research shows that overweight
or obese women, especially after menopause, increase their risk of breast
cancer recurrence. This is because estrogen levels are high in obese women
causing hormone responsive breast cancer to develop.
can boost endurance and
help the lungs and the heart to function more efficiently. You will be less
fatigued and have more energy.
Exercising can help you cope better with chemotherapy and radiation therapy by
easing nausea and fatigue.
Breast cancer treatment can cause the formation of scar tissue that tighten and
stiffen the muscles of arms and shoulders. Exercising can help you have better
mobility and range of motions.
Physical activity triggers the release of brain chemicals such endorphins that
make you more happy and relaxed. So you will feel less stressed.
Struggling with sleep
at night or waking up often at night is quite common with breast cancer
patients. Physical activity or exercising in any form can help you sleep
Chemotherapy and hormone therapy can cause muscle mass to decrease. Exercising,
especially strength training, can ensure more muscle than fat. You will feel
and be more fit.
despite physical activity having so many benefits, a new study published in the
revealed that only 35
percent of breast cancer survivors met the physical activity guidelines.
the study, Briona Hair and her colleagues, noted that 59 percent of patients in
their study reduced activity approximately six months after diagnosis which was
equivalent to about five hours per week of brisk walking.
reported that compared to white women, African-American women were about 40
percent less likely to meet physical activity guidelines post-diagnosis.
providers should discuss the role physical activity plays in improving breast
cancer outcomes with their patients, and strategies that may be successful in
increasing physical activity among breast cancer patients need to be
comprehensively evaluated and implemented,' suggested the researchers.