Doc Talk | Physical therapy for breast cancer patients


Physical therapy is a big component when it comes to treating breast cancer.

After surgery, doctors say women may find the area around or near their breast to be painful or tight.

Nancy Marter was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"I found a lump just by accident," Marter said.

A good accident she caught it early enough that it had not yet metastasized.

Nancy had a lumpectomy to remove the cancer.

But had to undergo another surgery after that.

"At first, there's such a sense of not believing it's really happening," Marter said. "It's so completely life-altering."

She underwent seven weeks of radiation and was lucky enough to avoid chemotherapy, but she couldn't avoid physical therapy.

Physical therapist Kim Lenker worked with Nancy to alleviate some pain and tightness in her chest and arm, stemming from a scar tissue buildup under the skin, also known as adhesions.

"She did have a lot of adhesions and a lot of lymphedema in her breast," Lenker said. "Very painful. It can really limit the ability of the patient to use their arm and function as they did prior to surgery."

Lenker performs myofascial release and manual lymphatic draining, lightly massaging Nancy near her lymph nodes to relieve the adhesions and gets the lymphatic fluid flowing.

Nancy has learned how and now does this at home herself, since this will be something she'll always have to deal with.

"She's taught me so much about my physiology, especially the lymphatic system, what she needs to do and what I need to do to keep me healthy," Marter said.

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