Physio Benefits for Cancer Patients

Jun 06, 2019

Improvements in Canadian cancer treatment has resulted in an increased number of Canadian cancer survivors, with approximately 100,000 Albertans living with, or past a cancer diagnosis. This population of survivors will continue to grow as our population ages and our medical treatments become more effective. This group of survivors is highlighting the long-term impact of cancer and its treatment on the physical, mental and overall health of survivors.





Despite the known benefits of exercise, including the prevention of a secondary cancer diagnosis, less than one third of cancer survivors report that they are meeting the minimum exercise guidelines for physical activity (150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week). This is often due to a lack of expertise in physical activity or due to physical limitations brought on by the cancer itself, or its treatments.


Conventional cancer treatment may involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy or a combination of the formers. Cancer and its treatments can lead to common physical problems such as pain, numbness (neuropathy), swelling, muscle weakness, joint stiffness, fatigue, loss of endurance, loss of bone density, difficulty walking, loss of balance, weight gain or heart problems. Physical therapists are trained and educated to understand cancer diagnoses and they can cater a therapeutic program to address patient specific needs and goals.


Physical therapists are educated and trained to improve:


  • Post-surgical healing: through scar massage, compressive garments and by improving circulation to the surgical site
  • Pain: through manual therapy techniques to decrease the need for pain medication by reducing musculoskeletal pain, burning sensations, tingling, numbness, cramps, spasms and weakness
  • Fatigue: by improving aerobic capacity gradually, fatigue is reduced over time
  • Numbness: through the use of nerve manual therapy techniques and modalities
  • Bone density: by preventing bone loss through targeted strength and aerobic training
  • Lymphedema and swelling: reduced with gentle massage, specific exercises, use of modalities and compressive garments
  • Mood: through exercise induced stress reduction and endorphin release
  • Walking ability: by prescribing strengthening exercises, walking training regimes and balance activities
  • Stiffness: by providing treatment to stiff joints through manual therapy, active exercises and stretching techniques
  • Strength: through active strengthening, balance and agility training
  • Balance: through exercise techniques to prevent falls or education on the use of canes/crutches/walkers to help maintain balance in standing and walking.


For more information about rehabilitation available for Canadian cancer patients please visit:


For information about an exercise program available in Alberta for cancer survivors:


Book an appointment today with one of our Physiotherapists by calling 780-458-8505.


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We understand each person is different so we offer a variety of techniques that are best suited to your individual needs.