The 2010 Breast Cancer Symposium, held last week in National Harbor, Md., dedicated an entire session to survivorship. The specific topics included sexuality, survivorship in older patients, management of osteonecrosis of the jaw, and physical activity, diet, and weight.
This is encouraging. It seems like more doctors are paying increasing attention to the quality of cancer patients’ lives after their treatments are over. Dr. Michael Krychman of Newport Beach, Calif., emphasized the importance of individualizing sexual problems in cancer survivors. The decrease in estrogen after cancer treatment can cause a range of sexual problems for which there are a range of solutions even at the most basic level, such as choosing the right lubricant for vaginal dryness, he said.
The physical activity talk stood out in light of recent guidelines issued by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Dr. Rachel Ballard-Barbash of the National Cancer Institute mentioned the guidelines and emphasized the value of a variety of types of exercise—cardiovascular activity, resistance training, and flexibility—for cancer survivors.
My colleague Kerri Wachter (@knwachter on Twitter), covered the ACSM’s June meeting, and blogged about how the recommendations said that there’s no reason why cancer patients can’t get out and do whatever exercise feels good to them. Kerri also conducted a video interview with Kathryn Schmitz, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania, lead author on the ACSM guidelines.
Dr. Ballard-Barbash said that even though studies of exercise interventions for cancer patients haven’t shown significant weight loss, they have shown improvements in cardiovascular fitness and physical function. And let’s not underestimate the psychological benefits of exercise in general, and the comfort and joy of returning to a favorite activity in particular.
–Heidi Splete (@hsplete on twitter)